By Annemarie Foy and Sirisha Munukutla, Teen Engagement Council
After months of planning, organizing, and sending many, many emails, the Teen Engagement Council hosted “Power Up the Future” on June 22, 2018, bringing approximately 500 people to the Museum for the first of an annual event series dedicated to promoting teens’ interest in technology.
The Teen Engagement Council comprises 10 former high school interns, all teens who wanted to continue working with the Museum to share their love of technology. We started meeting together in January, under the guidance of Emily Stupfel, education specialist of family and community programs, and Kate McGregor, manager of family and community programs, to prepare an event that would bring local teens into the Museum for an entertaining, educational extravaganza. From the myriad of departments in the Museum, we learned about fundraising, event planning, marketing, and even the legal hoops to jump through in order to host food trucks. Who knew?
As the crucial day approached we found ourselves making increasingly more critical decisions, with emails and texts constantly bouncing between us. Despite the weight that we knew was on our shoulders, we became even more excited about the event as time marched on.
And then it was upon us! We spent that Friday afternoon preparing to moderate the panel (Shreya), stuffing thank-you bags (Avani), labeling raffle prizes (Annemarie), editing the agenda (Sirisha), feeding volunteers (Anish), watering volunteers (Shiven), teaching demo instructors (Fariha), arranging signage (Roland), and running around averting potential disasters (Rikesh).
We were confident that by 5 p.m. we would be ready to open the doors to hordes of teens. We certainly didn’t anticipate families arriving at 4:30 p.m., but we pulled together quickly and were able to accommodate them, thanks to our intense preparation earlier that day. Our check-in tables were outside the door, valiantly staffed by four tireless volunteers. Our raffle table, replete with prizes, had two volunteers to explain the structure of the drawing. Zade Lobo, former summer intern, was our enthusiastic, energetic emcee, notifying guests of event opportunities and overseeing our three rounds of Museum-themed Kahoot (a web-based trivia game that can be played on your personal mobile device). Demo tables upstairs invited visitors to try out nifty new technology from the art, health, and VR sectors of the industry. Of course, it would be remiss to forget our excellent Museum exhibits, which many guests explored.
Throughout the event, visitors also strolled outside for music and meals. A cappella groups—Alphabeats from Google, InTune from Linkedin, and Airbnbeats from Airbnb entertained visitors with their renditions of popular songs. Nearby, BBQ was cooked by Catered Too!, the appetizing aroma wafting around the patio. On the food truck scene, Mr. Softee offered delicious ice cream, Waffle Amore provided delectable waffles, and Tea Up served boba tea, a staple of many Bay Area teens’ diets.
At 7 p.m., guests flocked to Hahn Auditorium to attend a panel discussion, moderated by the Teen Engagement Council’s very own Shreya Nagpal, in discussion with Dr. David Axelrod, assistant professor of pediatric cardiology at the Stanford School of Medicine and cocreator of the Stanford Virtual Heart (one of our demos!), and Ge Wang, Stanford assistant professor of music and computer science and creator of the Ocarina app.
Guided by Shreya’s excellent questions, the panelists commented on their work, the importance of diversity in the tech industry, the relationship between humanities and STEM, and college prospects, a particularly scary subject for many teen attendees. One attendee excitedly told us that the panel inspired her to seriously consider a career in tech even though she was never really interested, as the connection made between art and STEM during the panel illustrated the broad range of careers in technology.
Watch Shreya in Conversation with David Axelrod and Ge Wang
Finally, at 8:15 p.m., we announced the raffle winners in a long-awaited ceremony. Zade tirelessly announced each ticket number as guests scrambled to check their corresponding tickets for the same number, a difficult task for those who had accumulated many. Winners were delighted to receive Museum memorabilia, a family membership, magnetic Nanodots, and a Makey-Makey.
As we shepherded guests out of the demos and the exhibits at 9 p.m., we congratulated each other on our success. Throughout all our months of preparation, we really didn’t know how many people to expect, and we were thrilled with the outcome—validation!
Without a doubt, none of this would have been possible without the tremendous support we received from Museum staff, the community, donors, vendors, and our supervisors. It was an incredible opportunity for us to learn management, organization, fundraising, event planning, marketing, collaboration, and so many more skills that we will now be able to bring to college and our future jobs. We hope that the #CHMTeenTakeover series will continue in the future so that the Museum can provide local teens with an unforgettable experience.
Thank You to Our Teen Engagement Council!
CHM is tremendously proud of its Teen Engagement Council for putting on the Museum’s first-ever teen takeover. We enjoyed working with and learning—yes, learning—from each of you. Your enthusiasm, hard work, imagination, and overall flare brought to light for new audiences the magic of computing and technology. You helped teens, just like you, see themselves in this story, a story that is still being created, reinvented, and shaped every day. Thank you for extending the Museum’s community and everything you’ve taught us!