Mozilla/Open-Source as an Opportunity to HS Students

Thanks to the generosity of my Director and Manager, Tim Riley and Tony Chung respectively, as well as Jack Aiello, my High School Computer Science Teacher, I was able to present at the high school I graduated from, Independence High School about Mozilla and what it can offer students who are interested in pursuing a career on the Internet. Mozilla means a whole bunch of things to a lot of different people; but to me, it’s an opportunity…and that’s something I wanted kids at my alma mater to understand. It’s an opportunity for them to gain skills; a way to provide community service and to make the internet better all on their own time and at their own homes. Here was the presentation I created and used:


What I saw was that there’s definitely interest. Jack Aiello and his students wanted to get involved and about 10-12 students (out of the 130-150 or so students I spoke to) personally came up to me after the presentation(s) to ask for specific tasks they could do to get started. I thought that was curious because I had given them the same information that we had given others who plops into our newsgroups and irc channels looking for things to do and that usually turns out well.


I talked to Jack Aiello about this afterwards and the thing we took away from it was that how Mozilla could show college applications that these students had done something (other than writing code) was never explained. He mentioned a signed certificate mentioning that the kids did a certain task that was assigned to them (for a certain person in the community) would probably be enough. That led to the second thing that caused some disconnect, these kids needed mentors to help show them the ropes in a specific task. Mozilla definitely doesn’t have something like this in the community, but we do have all the aspects necessary to make it happen. There are people all throughout the Mozilla Community who own tasks/areas/groups/etc. that are well-versed in what they do and are always looking for help. The only thing that we need is a list of people who have an assignable and simple task to complete whether they’re in class or out of class.


Jack went all the way to offer class time for these kids to get some real tasks completed if I was willing to get those two things for him…and I think that’s very possible. There was a lot of stuff happening during each of the 5 talks I gave that I wasn’t able to remember, but here’s some of the things I did:


Some other Interesting Take-Aways:


A lot of them didn’t know about a bunch of different features on Firefox 3.5, but all were agreement that the reason that about 60% of each class used Firefox over other web browsers is due to a lot of reasons we already hear (add-ons, faster, free, highly customizable) and a few ones that we don’t normally hear (lots of updates are a good thing because they feel Firefox is always trying to better itself and security updates are made very quickly and often).


There were three times that I saw a lot of heads nod in understanding what I was talking about:

– When I showed them that Mozilla is an opportunity

– When I searched Bugzilla for the bug and patch that added Private Browsing to Firefox

– When I showed them how to (step-by-step) contact our Mozilla Community (specifically newsgroups and irc channels)


There were a couple ‘wow’ and ‘cool’ moments as well:

– Showing Personas for Firefox

– Showing the NY Times Ad made for Firefox 1.0 and explaining the ’static’ on the left page