CO.LAB,  presented by Open Source Stories, is a learning experience that introduces young students to the power of collaboration, community, and open source. Using open hardware and methodologies, Red Hat mentors teach students why being open is a better way to work together and a more effective way to solve problems. Since its launch in 2017, CO.LAB has shared the principles of open source and collaboration with more than one hundred middle school female students in seven cities. Students in the program learned how to turn a Raspberry Pi computer into a digital camera, and others learned how to create a circuit and build their own interactive paper circuitry book.  

On Wednesday, CO.LAB will host its first global experience at Tate Modern. Just as Tate Exchange provides accessibility to art, our engagement at Tate Modern will offer technology access to local youth. Students from two London schools will participate in an all-day session learning a bit about coding, a bit about music and a lot about open source.  

The program is a collaboration between Red Hat and Femi Owolade-Coombes, better known as Hacker Femo. Femi, a 13-year-old coder known for his Young Coder Workshops in London, worked with us to provide a curriculum that extends the capabilities of the micro:bit, a pocket-sized codeable computer of which one million were delivered to England and Wales year 7 students in 2016.

Differing from previous CO.LAB events, the curriculum will be led by Femi, and mentors will be both Red Hat experts and middle school girls from the Young Coders program.

Femi shared, “It was really cool to be invited to San Francisco by Red Hat in 2018, and at the Summit we talked about the possibilities of CO.LAB in London. Since then I’ve set up Young Coders Meetup with a group of other young coders, and we’ve focused a lot on gender parity and bringing more girls into our workshops. We’re excited to have three of our Young Coders as mentors for CO.LAB. I’ve had a great experience with Red Hat, but there are other girl coders who are equally as passionate and dedicated as I am, and it’s a privilege to share leadership with them on this project. They can inspire other girls and share their own open source stories with the students who are participating.”

Students will create a musical glove using micro:bits and micro:bit power boards. They’ll learn the process of designing fast, iterating on feedback and the importance of collaboration. By hacking a woolen glove, students will build a gesture-controlled device, then code it to play melodies, rhythms, and harmonies.  The result will be a collaborative musical installation, controlled by open hardware gloves.

“This was an exciting project because I worked with my own mentors and developed a prototype that will be open source and anyone can use it,” explained Femi. “The project is really interesting as it makes coding and music open to everyone - you don’t have to have a knowledge or background in music to be able to contribute.”

As a part of Red Hat’s Open Source Stories initiative, CO.LAB is an ongoing effort to create and share stories about how openness can be a catalyst for change. Red Hat has championed communities—both big and small—as we strive to build innovative technologies. With Open Source Stories, we are sharing what happens when people defy convention and say to the world: “Take this. Build on it. Make it better.”

Follow along with the event in real-time on Wednesday via #RedHatCOLAB, and learn more about the CO.LAB initiative via our website: www.redhat.com/colab.
 

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