How to Host a Large Scratch Day

An interview with Scratch Day hosts José Carlos Écija Naranjo, David Palomo Pendón, and Mar Serón

By Saskia Leggett

This post is the fifth in a series on tips for hosting a Scratch Day. This year, Scratch is celebrating our 10th Anniversary during the month of May, but you can celebrate any day of the year!

To host a Scratch Day, all you need is a space, a few Scratch activities, and participants who are ready to meet, share, and learn together. Our last blog post took a look at a smaller Scratch Day organized in a home; this blog post explores a Scratch Day organized for a larger community. To gain insight into what it’s like to organize a larger Scratch Day event, we asked José Carlos Écija Naranjo and his co-organizers David Palomo Pendón and Mar Serón to tell us about their experience organizing their first Scratch Day, an event for 100 students and their families in Málaga, Spain.

David, José Carlos, and Mar are primary school educators who are interested in exploring new methods of learning that are engaging, motivating, and fun for their students. The three of them teach different subjects, different grades, and work at different schools; they started collaborating after meeting at a conference for music teachers in 2015. They first learned Scratch by watching videos online and reading blog posts, and were encouraged to host their own regional Scratch Day in Málaga after consulting with hosts of larger Scratch Day events in Bilbao and Madrid. After hosting their first Scratch Day event last year, David, José Carlos, and Mar are sharing what they’ve learned and are helping people in other cities in the Southern Spain region of Andalucia organize their own events in 2017.

A version of this blog post is also available in Spanish.

How did you hear about Scratch Day?

We heard about Scratch Day for the first time in a conference called aulaBLOG, a project initiated by a group of teachers from different parts of Spain interested in promoting the use of information technology and communications in education. After that, we started working on Scratch projects with our students, learning at the same time as them, and decided to create the event in Málaga.

In addition to seeing other Scratch Days in Spain, what inspired you to host an event?

We knew that our students were going to be motivated and excited with Scratch. In class, we enjoyed seeing them learning and sharing their ideas. As “sharing” is one of the values of Scratch, what better way to share than with an event that connects people and students from very different places?

What is your favorite thing about Scratch Day?

We most like seeing the joy on our students’ faces enjoying and sharing their ideas with other students from different schools.

What was your event last year like?

At the beginning of the planning process, the most difficult thing was to find a space, but we were able to host the event in the incredible facilities of the Faculty of Education Science at the University of Málaga. The three of us led the event, and we also had around 50 amazing collaborators who volunteered to help us when they heard about this event. The central theme of the event was Scratch, and all schools shared their projects with the rest of the audience. There were about 100 children (plus their families) from five different schools in attendance.

Students, parents, and volunteers gathered at the University of Málaga.

What kinds of Scratch activities did you do at your event?

Before the event, the students made an event logo using the Scratch Cat. We liked that the logo had something from Málaga and kids did a great job using their imagination.

On the day of the event, we offered concurrent activities on Scratch and creative technologies, including a workshop for parents, where we explained how our students work with Scratch, and a Scratch gymkhana treasure hunt activity. The other workshops were run by local creativity and technology clubs, Stemxion and Robotix, and included activities with robotics.

Every school represented had a stand where students could show their Scratch projects. Some projects connected with Makey Makey to play different musical instruments.

We also had a space for a fun Scratch Photobooth.

What was your planning process like?

The first thing we did was look for other schools using Scratch in their classes to invite to our event. We used a blog, Twitter, and Facebook to announce and promote the event as well. After that, we reached out to sponsors who might be interested in participating with us. We also prepared participants by sending the schools a Google form where families gave us permission to be able to record their kids. It was important that each child came with a responsible person in charge (normally their parents). For the event itself, we had everything planned minute by minute and second options if something might go wrong.

How did you manage a larger crowd?

When we started planning we didn’t know we were going to do a big event like this. It was essential for us to have so many collaborators and volunteers willing to help.

How did you find funding for your event?

We had great help from aulaBLOG, who helped us clear our doubts by encouraging us to do the event. Also, they made Scratch shirts for all the children, which they gave to us for free. We had other sponsors like Stemxion, Robotix, Colegio Salliver, Andatic, Architec 3D, and Tortas Carmen Lupiañez. All of them were very generous and helped us in various ways.

Children shared their Scratch projects with each other and engaged with new activities.

What are your suggestions for working with a team to plan a larger event?

We think is very important to have a team that you know and can trust. In a large event, you must have different teams: for example we had a different team for broadcasting media, photo, videos, and audio in the assembly room, etc. More people volunteered for the activities, and we communicated with each group very often during the preparation process. Everybody who helped were volunteers and had previous experience working with kids. We were really proud of all our volunteers. We all knew our goal: we wanted our kids had fun in a positive atmosphere, meeting other kids, while they were showing their projects — all of that thanks to Scratch.

What advice would you give to other Scratch Day hosts planning a larger event?

First of all we must say that it worth it. If you have a good team working as one, your success is almost assured. Start in advance and be ready for any inconveniences that may arise.

Will you be planning another Scratch Day this year?

Yes — see our Scratch Day trailer! You can also find out more information on Facebook and Twitter.

The three Scratch day organizers: David, José Carlos, and Mar.