31st JULY - 4th AUGUST 2015

Pullman Brisbane - King George Square

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Rapid prototyping with teenagers

Project: NCSS

This is teamwork and rapid prototyping challenges on steroids. Imagine 15 high school kids, most of whom have only just learned to program, working together to design and build a fully functional social networking site in 3 days.

This project is done as part of the NCSS (National Computer Science School) summer program. NCSS has been running for 20 years, and I've been involved in the last 7, so that's 6 different social networking sites (we used to build search engines, but apparently they're not cool anymore).

I'll go through the technical details, the tools we use, how the site functions, and how we structure the different pieces to come together. I'll also show off some extra fun projects we throw at the advanced kids, like building their own Django-like template engine, and secure hashing of passwords.

A lot of the challenge of this undertaking is inevitably also project management and coordination of the team. These students have never written tests before, don't know what version control is and don't understand what it means to agree on an API. Hilarity and frustration can (and does) ensue, especially during the last night, which is an all-nighter.

Come along to learn how to do project management with the least experienced team possible and how to hack together a functional prototype webapp with minimum effort.

Katie Bell

Katie is a software developer for a growing startup called Grok Learning, building online tools for high schools to teach programming and web development.

Before that she worked at Google for 6 years, firstly in Sydney as a Software Engineer then moving to Site Reliability Engineering and then moving to Zürich, Switzerland.

In her spare time, Katie teaches Python and other CS concepts to high school kids as part of the National Computer Science School (NCSS) and the Girls Programming Network. She also hacks on random projects like a webapp for teaching classical cryptography and a Python API for Minecraft.