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SAP Young Thinkers Learning Festival at Snap!Con 2020: Highlights and Learnings from an International and Virtual Event

When learners and teachers from all over the world come together to create, collaborate and celebrate learning – regardless of age, experience level or location – moments of inspirations and ‘aha effects’ are born.

We are extremely excited to share our first-hand experience about our latest SAP Young Thinkers Learning Festival – this time in a truly international setup and with great community members. From July 27 to August 1 2020, our virtual learning festival paved the way for the Snap!Con 2020, which was hosted by the University of California, Berkeley. Read this blog post to get to know more about our event highlights and learnings.

Learning Festival

During the learning festival, young thinkers had the chance to gain insights into the projects from some of the Snap!Con lecturers in exciting and interactive virtual learning sessions. Over 3 days, a total of 30 learning sessions, touching 11 different topics and offered in two languages (English and German), were presented by learning session leads from different universities, schools and SAP Young Thinkers. Besides the learning sessions, there was an ongoing open self-paced learning space for those who couldn’t get enough. Check out the agenda here.

Learning Experiences

While some participants developed their first chat bot, others programmed their own game. They could also control BirdBrain Technology robots remotely, meaning students in Germany made robots move in Pittsburgh, US. From analyzing Covid-19 data with NetsBlox to rescuing a virtual ocean with Snap!, many exciting sessions dealing with relevant topics around the Sustainable Development Goals were held. The session leads became creative to overcome the physical distance and pass on their enthusiasm for computer and data science. Julie Maedig and Alexander Reichl from the Technical University of Munich shared their excitement with us “In just 2 hours, our young learners were able to build a first game in Snap!”. Dan Seiler and Jule Zollondz from the SAP Young Thinkers Team were amazed by the ideas the young coders developed to save the virtual ocean “We hope that some of the ideas make it into reality.”


Snapshot of a First Game Developed by a Young Thinker

Virtual Interaction

Yet, we also learned that we don´t know the magic recipe for virtual interaction. Many learners were hesitant to show themselves via their camera or unmute themselves and speak up during the learning sessions. The chat and reaction buttons worked much better. Sometimes, it was hard to know if the speed and difficulty of the session was suitable, if learners were busy coding for themselves or left in the dark. For sure, this is a different learning situation we all need to get used to.

The highlight of every Young Thinkers Leaning Festival, the Show & Tell session, showed that our learners became active and coded a lot of cool own projects. You can find a collection of the Snap! projects here. A few of them were shared on the virtual stage of this keynote session of the academic Snap! Conference 2020. The audience of professors and teachers enjoyed a very interactive session in which not only the chat boomed, but also learners spoke up, enabled their camera and shared some very inspiring projects they worked on.


Snapshot of an Idea Developed by a Young Thinker to Clean the Ocean

We keep on adopting our Young Thinkers Learning Festival thinking about which ingredients we should add or change to enable more interaction throughout the event. Different session formats, peer learning sessions, more ice breakers? We would love to hear from you and your ideas in the comments!

International Audience

The international reach of our learning festival was amazing. More than 100 international learners registered from more than 10 nations and 4 continents! An American and Canadian learner joined in the morning, while European and African learners just had dinner and our Indian students coded in the middle of the night. This virtual format surely offers new opportunities to learn cross nations and time zones which is a door opener for a new dimension of collaboration.


International Attendees at the SAP Young Thinkers Learning Festival


We want to say a big thank you to all Young Thinkers community members who contributed with amazing sessions to this experimental learning experience. A very special thank you goes to the team at UC Berkeley who did a great job supporting us with ZOOM rooms, granted a smooth technical run and some brilliant learning sessions. To all contributors – You are awesome! We enjoyed working with you and already are looking forward to more common action!

So everyone – watch out for the next SAP Young Thinkers Learning Festival which will take place in Q4/2020.

If you want to organize an event for young thinkers at the school of your child or at other places and occasions, feel free to reuse our learning modules. If you are interested to be part of our Young Thinkers community or simply would like to exchange, comment below or send an email to We look forward to hearing from you!

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  • Hi Maren, you please link in the blog post to the collection of Snap! projects created during the workshop?

    It is currently visible on the homepage when you scroll down to the section "YTLF @ Snap!Con 2020". But I don't know how that will stay on the homepage.

  • Yet, we also learned that we don´t know the magic recipe for virtual interaction. Many learners were hesitant to show themselves via their camera or unmute themselves and speak up during the learning sessions. The chat and reaction buttons worked much better. Sometimes, it was hard to know if the speed and difficulty of the session was suitable, if learners were busy coding for themselves or left in the dark. For sure, this is a different learning situation we all need to get used to.

    I agree. In my session "Learn Snap! by creating games", there was even not much interaction by chat. I restricted the number of participants to 8 because I assumed the same amount of troubleshooting and interaction as in the face2face workshops, but feared that it might take much more time online.

    It turned out that I could have handled 80 participants easily instead.

    Some background about the workshop: I teach the basics of programming and using Snap! by showing how to progam 4 easy games. See this page to get an idea:

    That low level of interaction is an issue as you write ... I don't know if I go to fast, slow or in the wrong direction.

    A mitigation would be to request some kind of interaction ... maybe everybody posts a screenshot of the code when done, or we take turns to showcase the current state.

    But maybe the whole approach of having a lecture-style  workshop does not work that well online with young learners. I could as well have recorded some Youtube video with the same result.

    Christiane Bauer pointed out a possible alternative in her session at SnapCon:
    Young learners learn so much better by exploring themselves, instead of just repeating something shown to them.

    And I have to agree to that. I also ran workshops (example here) for 6th grade classes visiting SAP in Walldorf (before Corona). Classes get split into 2 groups, and I have 20-30 minutes for each group to teach them basics of programming and robotics. Obviously that does not work with a lecture in 4 lessons.
    So instead, I

    • briefly explain the features of the robot on one slide (Slide 1)
    • show how to control the robot, read sensors, and use conditions and loops. Also one slide (slide 2)
    • then I demonstrate the app and we do a first one-liner program together (just light a LED)

    That takes 5 minutes, and this is all it needs for the more courageous kids to start experimenting. Or maybe they have already some experience with programming, Scratch, Snap, then they can also start quickly. To drag those kids through a lecture would probably bore them.

    Some of the other kids might need some inspiration what to try, so I give them a few challenges like let the robot play a song, burglary alarm or make it drive and evade obstacles.

    And for those who are pretty new I have some sample implementations for the challenges (pinned to the wall)

    The point is: I leave it completely up to them what they try out. I never had a kid which did not implement at least one idea. Usually 2 minutes after the introduction, they have their first own program running, and after 10, the first robot navigates through the room. Or plays a song or whatever.

    Because I give so little guidance in advance, they ask me for input on how to implement their idea, or help troubleshooting, so there is lots of interaction.

    One thing which helps a lot is that I have to put kids in teams of 2-4 (because I only have 5 robots and tablets) - working together speeds it up a lot. That will be more trouble to do online, especially if kids do not know each other. Maybe we could offer them to sign up as teams.

    So next time, I'd like to try this approach instead and see how it works out online.

    • Thanks a lot, Andreas Huppert, for sharing your thoughts about the virtual interaction.

      I like that you question the workshop or lecture formats for virtual sessions in general. We should try out how students learn when we give them just a little guidance and inspiration and they can explore the topics themselves. It will be interesting to see how they would then interact to ask questions when they are stuck or how open they will be to show what they have been working on.