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Starting an After-School Computer Club? 572

Kai_MH asks: "When I moved up to my high school this year (I'm a Sophomore), I was surprised to find that there was no 'computer' or 'technology' club at the school. Sure, there's A/V, but what fun is carrying TV sets around? So, I'd like to approach my school's administration about starting an after-school computer club. I'd like to educate my peers on the alternatives to Windows (Linux and Open Source), how hardware works and fits together, job offerings in computer-related fields, and anything else that may be of interest. Perhaps we can do fund-raisers to build and upgrade a computer for the club, which could be donated to the school or community? Does anyone have suggestions on this? Has anyone tried this before? I've had a lot of support from my peers, but I'm still not quite sure how to go about it."
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Starting an After-School Computer Club?

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  • by thrillbert ( 146343 ) * on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:05PM (#5846646) Homepage
    I don't know what anyone else told you about a computer club, but you're not going to meet any chicks that way!

    Be braver -- you can't cross a chasm in two small jumps.
    • by missing000 ( 602285 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:14PM (#5846810)
      Don't take this the wrong way, the jokes kind of funny, but I don't think its either true or a good thing to go around promoting.

      There are a growing number of computer chicks out there, and I happen to be dating one (I know, I've been told before that this can't be true as I read /. Whatever).

      My point is that this type of joke is just a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Geek girls exist, go find one and try not to talk about star trek.
      • Only thing growing about computer chicks is their fat ass from being on the computer all the time...nuff said.
    • by gabec ( 538140 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:16PM (#5846843)
      See if you start up computer clubs for these bright-eyed youngsters they'll start thinking about careers in the field, which will create more job market competition for _ME_, so... yeah... Just forget the whole thing, OK?.. Great... Glad we had this little chat.

      By the way, you haven't seen my red Swingline lying around anywhere, have you?

    • Hmm..odd. I seem to recall meeting my a girl in the high-school computer lab, ten years ago. I married her last summer. So it is possible to meet chicks there. Hey, they might even be intelligent, which is at least as important as being good looking.

      Of course, you have to worry that the chick may be smarter than you...(mine's studying ebola).

    • I remember back in grade nine one of the school sluts walked into the computer lab and declared that she wanted to marry the next Bill Gates. Unfortunately she decided that was the weirdest looking guy in the room, which left me and my not-totally-oblivious-to-cool friends just as chickless as before. I think she lost interest by the end of the lunch break, mind you...
    • by SuperQ ( 431 ) * on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:30PM (#5847053) Homepage
      that reminds me of a story about how for 10 years, two of the science teachers at my HS only posted the pictures of women in physics/chemistry/math events around the halls, and other school publications. after a few years of this, they noticed the rate of women signing up for physics/chemistry/math went from 10% to 50% This kind of promotion would be great for a computer club.. droping the attitude that gender has anything to do with using computers..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:05PM (#5846653)
    just beat yourself up and flush your own head down the toilet.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Oh comon, I thought that was pretty funny! Where's my mod points when I need them!
  • by grantsellis ( 537978 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:06PM (#5846667) Homepage
    Has anyone tried this before?

    This is slashdot, Virginia. Everyone's tried this before.
  • Teacher (Score:4, Informative)

    by rzbx ( 236929 ) <slashdot@rzbx.COBOLorg minus language> on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:07PM (#5846682) Homepage
    If you have a teacher that teaches some sort of computer related topic, then talk to them. I've heard that most clubs require a teacher to sponser the club or something like that. The teacher I'm sure could help talk to those that can get the club official and all too.
    • by JVert ( 578547 )
      Get some other students interested as well before you aproach the teacher. It shows legitimate demand for the club and starts the club off with a low troll/student ratio.
    • Re:Teacher (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AlexMax2742 ( 602517 )
      Just make sure the "computer teacher" isn't also the algebra/english/business management applications/workforce development/coach of the swim team, or else they most likely won't be interested.
      • Re:Teacher (Score:3, Insightful)

        by karnal ( 22275 )
        Our "computer teacher" turned out to be the Trig and Calculus (advanced) teacher. Now while I must say that the classes were somewhat boring for myself and a peer, there's probably nothing better than having:

        1. A teacher who is interested in computers (the big requirement)
        2. A teacher who knows his way around math.

        Since computers are all about math (in case you didn't know), I think the two kinda go hand in hand....
    • Re:Teacher (Score:4, Informative)

      by Mysticalfruit ( 533341 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:25PM (#5846978) Homepage Journal
      Granted when we started our computer club we had a bunch of 8086's... but the rules should pretty much be the same.

      Firstly: You need an Advisor. Ours was one of the teachers who taught computer classes.

      Secondly: Figure out what you want todo with yourselves. Installfests / Hackfests or better find some need in the school and put together a system to fill that nitch...
    • Re:Teacher (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Student_Tech ( 66719 )
      Depending on what your school offers perhaps see if you can get it as a class where the students do computer (help desk type stuff mostly) work.
      This is what happened the 2nd semester my frosh year of high school. I took it as an after school class, got credit (vocational) and got to play with computers. The main thing we had to do was get 60 hours of work in the semester. (The school hasn't updated the page on their website, go see it here [prosserschools.org].) My junior and senior years it ended up being more of a class th
  • by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:08PM (#5846687) Journal
    the number 1 rule of computer club, you don't talk about computer club!
    • to finish (Score:5, Funny)

      by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:21PM (#5846915) Homepage Journal
      The second rule of Computer Club is you do not talk about Computer Club.

      The third rule of Computer Club is, if the CIA catches on, the hack is over.

      The fourth rule of Computer Club is, only one guy to a computer.

      The fifth rule of Computer Club is, one critical section at a time, boys.

      The sixth rule of Computer Club is, no ties, no sports jerseys.

      The seventh rule of Computer Club is, coding sessions will go on as long as they have to.

      The eigth rule of Computer Club is, if this is your first night, you have to release 1.0.
    • I want you to all go out tonight, start a Counterstrike server, and lose!
  • Not a good idea. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gpinzone ( 531794 )
    As soon as anything goes wrong with the school's computers, you guys will be blamed. "I split coffee on my keyboard and now my computer doesn't work. Must have been those computer geeks hacking into our network! That's the only explaination!"
    • Re:Not a good idea. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by k_herald ( 317652 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:16PM (#5846845)
      Heh, I remember back in my old school days all of us nerds would have fun running amock on our school system's Novell Netware intranet. We had these crappy IBM 386's (this was public school of course) and had a helluva time. The surprising thing we found was that there was nearly no security whatsoever on the network. We even ended up installing this network game called "Spacy", which was a glorified version of asteroids, except you tried to shoot eachother up. We had ~50-60 ppl at a time playing the game (from several different schools in the district), and ended up crashing the whole network for the school district. Ya, they found out, but oddly enough they never fried us. *shrugs* it was fun, it sparked my interest, just make friends of the teachers first by getting around the filtered internet that all schools have these days.
  • good luck (Score:5, Informative)

    by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:10PM (#5846728) Homepage Journal
    I hope you have a large high school, because I know at mine it would have been a fruitless attempt. (People are busy enough usually).

    However, there must be some sort of form to fill out, or you can just start a club without the school's permission under your Right to Assemble. Or you can wait for college, which for me is just a giant Computer Club.

    (You'd probably get more members if you made it an area club to attract kids from nearby high schools.)

    (Oh yea, and don't do drugs. (For at least another two years.))
    • Re:good luck (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vagary ( 21383 )
      Sometimes there are fringe benefits to starting a club: I was a founder of the Surf Nazis Must Die [troma.com] club in university because the President wanted the free photocopies. The only meeting we ever had was to distribute the photocopy cards...
  • by xchino ( 591175 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:10PM (#5846729)
    I just moved to a new high school and was wondering what the best way to ensure I get beat up on a daily basis was.
    • I just moved to a new high school and was wondering the easiest way for the principal to round up 'the usual suspects' after any incident of school violence within 25 miles.
    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:46PM (#5847246) Homepage Journal
      "I just moved to a new high school and was wondering what the best way to ensure I get beat up on a daily basis was. "

      At least look at the bright side. The word 'mount' would finally enter their vocabularies.

      Hmm. Yeah, you're right. They're going to get beat up.

      "... couldn't get the damn thing to work, so I said 'man mount' in order to see what I hadn't tried yet and ... hey! Put me down!"
  • LFSP? (Score:4, Informative)

    by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:10PM (#5846738) Journal
  • Do NOT mention 'hacking', 'cracking', or anything like that, EVEN if you are joking!

    Remember, older people on a whole know less about technology than younger people do. They may think you're serious and refuse to allow the club to be created. Worse yet, some control-freak of a teacher may try to use it as an excuse to shut the club down after it gets started.

    On that note, that's another thing to watch out for: teachers who may have agenda of their own, or just be control-freaks, who don't want to see the students actually PLAYING with technology. And for God's sake, if you're going to do anything that you think your school might not be happy about, make sure you don't get caught. (Not that I did anything like that when I was in high school... :-)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:17PM (#5846859)
      I nearly got thrown out of my school's library.


      I was browsing the Enlightenment home page. (Geez, now that shows my age - back in my day, Enlightenment was being released like mad!)

      The clueless librarian drone immediately insisted it was 'one of those hacker pages', because it contained strange words that she didn't understand.

      Like 'window manager'.


      I deftly dodged the idiocy. I didn't feel like creating a scene, since the minute I would've opened my mouth, I would've probably been labelled as someone who could cause nuclear strikes by whistling into a telephone. *snort*

      Yarr. Anyhow, the moral of the story is - don't fscking bother. High schools are havens for idiocy. You'll run into legions of dolts who will insist that you must be up to no good, because, dang nabbit, good people don't talk about things like front side bus speeds.

      Here's a better idea for you: Start a local user group. Open it to everyone and all that. When you teach Bob the Tavern Owner that it's a mouse, not a foot pedal, he'll be damned impressed.

      Why is that important? Well, it's never too early to start connections and business relationships. (It doesn't need to go that far - but then, if random citizen of the city #2552 already thinks you know yer shit when it comes to computers, he's more likely to listen to your spiel when yer looking for investors. Or references for jobs. Et cetera.)
  • Hrmm. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:11PM (#5846744) Homepage Journal
    I thought "computer clubs" were in vogue until about ten or fifteen years ago. That was when computers were new and nerdy.

    Now, even the jocks use computers and a lot of people have at least one. It would be like starting a toaster club, or a refrigerator club. Is there a "sports" club at your school? Or is there a track team, a tennis club, football team...you get the idea.

    If you can find a theme for the club, you'll have an easier time deciding what to do. Do you build computers for poor kids? Do you write code? Do you game? Do you dress up in black suits and go door-to-door extolling the virtues of Linux?

    Find a specific theme, and the rest will become clear.
    • Re:Hrmm. (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bendebecker ( 633126 )
      What if you want to dress in black suits and go door to door writing game code for poor kids?
    • Re:Hrmm. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jubii ( 315611 )
      Um... no, I think you're a little off base in your statement. The theme for a Computer Club is just what the name implies: a group of people interested in computers. Just like Debate Club, or any of the numerous other HS clubs, you get the people together based on similar interests, then your group can decide on and do various projects. You can do any of the projects you mentioned (aside from maybe gaming or dressing up in black suits) in your school computer club.

      You're really missing the point of "cl
  • Unless your school is very tech focused, prepare for much public humiliation.

    At my school, there are about 4-5 people who have any technical aptitude (that includes teachers) and it's scary for all of us.
    • I was the most computer-oriented kid at my school. No one threatened to beat me up. And we were a "high school exists for football" school, too.

      The whole "geeks get beat up" thing is weird to me.
  • Find a Sponsor (Score:2, Insightful)

    by frostgiant ( 243045 )
    The process of starting a club or sport at my school is readily known.

    First, you need a sponsoring teacher (or teachers). Even if this isn't required, it would help to have a teacher with you when you approach administration. Maybe you know a computer teacher who would be interested, if not, try a math or science teacher.

    Then, you go to administration and ask about it. Basically, the school is just letting you use the building before/after the regular day, so there is no real reason they would deny it. Wh
  • if you start this club, you can kiss your social life goodbye.

    as shallow as it sounds, i had no friends my freshman year in high school, i ran around talking about doom etc. then my friend, who introduced me to irc, etc, came to me and said "want friends? dont talk about computers"

    he was right.. i vowed to never talk about computers in public again and the rest of high school was a blast..i was invited to parties, nights out, sure it was shallow as hell that the kids did this to me but hell, stereotypes a
  • Sure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:13PM (#5846794) Homepage
    I'd like to educate my peers on the alternatives to Windows (Linux and Open Source)

    Just don't be an obnoxious zealot. Education is about being informed of alternatives, not cramming the One True Thing down people's throats.

    Show them what's good about Linux/BSD/etc and what's good about Windows and viceversa. Then let them make their own minds. But bashing Windows (or viceversa) to make Linux look better is not a very bright idea, as experience has always shown.

    I.e., don't use Slashdot as your source for enlightenment. Then you'll be OK.

  • A/V and computers, that is. Do the fundraisers, etc. to set up a Linux-based digital media lab. As an earlier poster noted, starting a computer club won't get you chicks.

    Producing funny CGI shorts and kickass videos for the local garage bands, otoh, will.

  • Listen to this (Score:5, Informative)

    by jchawk ( 127686 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:14PM (#5846805) Homepage Journal
    I know right now you probably consider your Principal and his assistants the enemies, but they are there and do care about you and your educational experience.

    Walk into the office before class starts and ask the secretary for an appointment to talk to the principal or assistant. Explain that you want to start a computer club and you need to talk to a school employee for some direction and know how.

    Not only will they see you, but you'll probably get to get out of class for at least a little bit.

    Explain what you want to do, and what you need from the school, also ask for general assistance and they will be more then happy to help you.
  • Yes, I know there is a difference between the US schools and the norwegian ones. Yes, I also know that going to shcool now and fiften years ago when I was young and irresponsible are two quite different things.

    It don't change the fact that the un-official 'computer-group' I and a lot of the other geeks started was 'taken over' by the school halfway thru the first semester and all but added to the timetable for those interested. So from meeting at peoples homes, we got access to the schools computers in th

  • Are you going to be running your own wireless network? You should probably get school okay. How about your own file servers? The content needs to be okay and okayed too. Web server? Student accounts? Perhaps a gaming network?

    All of those are neat projects that are definitely useful skills as well (maintanence, IT stuff, etc), especially if you have a diverse and cross platform network (A couple OS 9 Macs, some OS X Macs, a few Linux machines, Windows 9x and Windows 2k machines, perhaps a real, if old, dona

  • Find the most tech-savvy teacher you know and approach him/her about being the faculty advisor to the club. Unfortunately you probably won't get far without faculty involvement, i.e. adult supervision [in the eyes of the school administration], so you may want to start with that. The teacher will also be instrumental in helping you find a place to meet, like a spare classroom or even the teacher's own room if appropriate. (A biology lab probably wouldn't be suitable, but you get the idea.)

    Good luck!
  • I tried this a few years back at my high-school. I managed to pull together some great kit (not just computers, but yet-to-be-released consumer kit and other neat toys). I got the school to provide perks like free sandwiches and drinks for those who came. We even had Sir. Clive Sinclair [nvg.ntnu.no] come and speak, but never more than a couple of people turned up. It was an after-school activity rather than a club, so there was no obligation any anyone could turn up if they wanted.

    It was a little embarrassing to have s
  • by baronben ( 322394 ) <ben.spigelNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:17PM (#5846850) Homepage
    You have to ask yourself, what's the point of this club? Is it a place for people to meet and talk? Hang out after school and kill time? Learn something? Community service?

    I formed a fencing club is my school, nothing much, it wasn't even a team, we just met once a week and killed time till we had to leave. The point of it wasn't to really be good at fencing, it was just fun to stab people repeatedly.

    High Schoolers already take enough classes, they really don't want to stay after school so they can hear a lecture on the differences between free and Free. Make it interesting, make it fun, and end every meeting with a LAN game.
  • by fishybell ( 516991 ) <fishybell&hotmail,com> on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:18PM (#5846861) Homepage Journal
    You'll need to convince a teacher before you even talk to the administrators. I know that if I was an administrator I'd say No. All of those out-dated computers your school has cost money to buy and to maintain. The last thing the administrators want is a bunch of "computer savvy" kids dinking with their computers.
    The only way to get a CS club started is to convince at least one teacher first, and have him/her help talk to the adminstrators.
    Another hint: don't try to sell them linux. Teachers, administrators, librarians, etc, like having something that they're used to on their computers. If you change it, you'll get the club disbanded.

    Good luch. You'll need it.

  • by Vilim ( 615798 ) <ryan@j a b b e r w o c k.ca> on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:18PM (#5846868) Homepage
    I guess we have a computer club at my school. It was quite a fluke that 4 people who are quite adapt with computers, love programming, exploring new things with computers etc. A) went to the same high school and B) Developed the relationship that we have.

    The reason that all of us came to Churchill (our high school) is because of this international Baccalaureate program. All of us had an interest in computers but the computer teacher at our school really allowed us to develop that interest by letting us take Cisco at lunch (because we were in IB it wouldn't fit into our time table) etc.

    I can remember in grade 10 computer programming, me and one of the other computer geeks did all of the classes programs a week ahead, the teacher would then use our programs as perfect (we got 110% on them) and mark from them as he didn't know anything about programming.

    That was in grade 10. When it came time for us to choose our senior level courses all of us chose Higher Level Computer science, our class consisted of 4 people. You guessed it, us 4.

    Now room 112 or the geek room boasts about 25 people who come there at lunch and just hang out. Teachers will bring thier comptuers that they have fucked up with viruses or which are running sluggishly for us to fix. The school has a forum server set up where teachers can (and do) post homework online so that students no longer have the excuse that htey left it at school, also teachers can help students online.

    We are given amazing freedom in our "computer club" our school had 50 or so 133 mhz computers donated to us. These were given to us (and the other comptuer people) to learn hardware on. Byproducts of this were a whole shitload of people who knew alot about hardware. We made the pimprouter - a router running linux which controlled our own little duke network. We made a beowolf cluster of 486's (or at least tried to).

    ALl of this started with a great comptuer teacher
  • When I was in high school you could take 'computer courses' at the community college nearby during and after school hours. You got high school credit for them as well as college credit. We wrote some bad pascal, and wrote email to the whitehouse from the unix machine. Go look in the counseling office of the school and ask around. There's usually some sort of program for overachievers (not that I ever received good grades).
  • Take a look at some Linux User Groups (LUGs) online. These organizations are very similar to what you're trying to create. In fact, if there's one in your area, you could possibly start something affiliated with them with their help.
  • Write up a plan (Score:2, Informative)

    by jkitchel ( 615599 )

    Check with your school to see if there are any standard forms which a club has to fill out to become "recognized" by the school.

    Write up a plan consisting of:
    a)club name
    b)purpose of the club
    c)potential members (just say everyone b/c you can't discriminate, but describe who typical members would be)
    d)Activities - what will the club do at meetings? outside of meetings?
    e)Faculty sponsor - if you get a teacher who is willing to sponsor you (not necessarily monetarily, but with guidance), you have a foot

  • We had a computer club back in high school that met at lunch and more or less consisted of guys playing Marathon on the Macintosh computers in the programming class lab. The important thing, like a few others have said, is the focus and breadth of material. Will you focus on hardware and overclocking? How to build webpages? How to alter your grades? Will you have guest speakers?

    The problem that I had found in high school was that there were three sets of "computer" courses-typing, programming, and a

  • I highly recommend that you make an alliance with the martial arts or weightlifting club. Do their homework, buy yourself some bodyguards. Cross train with them. Teach them how to use a mouse, let them teach you how to snap a man's neck or bench 200 pounds. A sound mind in a sound body and all that.

    Besides, as a poster above put it, you are not going to meet girls doing this. Best to pick up an activity that might help there, too.

    In all seriousness, don't make the mistake that a lot of us made. Don'
  • Don't do it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:20PM (#5846897) Homepage Journal
    Don't do it. Enjoy your high school years while you still can.

    Soon, if you're any good at what you do, you will be immersed in nothing but computers.
  • I remember a few years back in high school when we started a computer club the biggest issue was getting computers. Unless you can do all your work on the school's workstations you will need to somehow obtain your own computers.

    The best way we found to do this was to get old "discarded" hardware from various corporate sources. We hit up the local phone company and managed to get around 30 486 and 586 systems. Many companies these days have some sort of donation system where they provide their old hardware
  • Here's what I'd do (Score:5, Informative)

    by BigGar' ( 411008 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:21PM (#5846910) Homepage
    First thing I'd do is talk to the teacher that
    teaches the Computer Science classes. Most schools have a teacher sponsor that helps with the club. They'll probably have some idea of what to do or at least who to go to, to get the info you need.

    The procedures for starting a club are varied and you'll just have to start asking.

    I don't know if it will come up but I would certainly make sure that when forming the club that you are perfectly clear that the participants in the club will not be engaging in illeagal hacking, trading mp3's warez, during club meetings or with club equipment.
  • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:21PM (#5846912)
    Great Scott! I just got back from the year 2005. Here's your group photo [fredpc.com].
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:21PM (#5846919) Homepage
    I did something like this in college via the Student ACM at my school. Here's a link:


    We obtained a small room and set up some Linux systems and gave people room to play with. We initially called it the UPL (Undergrad Project Lab), a name stolen from a similar student-run lab at UW Madison. I'd advise you not to likewise take the name lest Gus threaten to break your knees with a titanium crowbar as he did me.

    This was back in day, so gigabyte harddrives were high times for us. These days, hardware is so cheap that I imagine you could get some good stuff happening with just a corner of a classroom and an ethernet connection.

    I will definately encourage you on this one -- for me, the UPL was great experience in terms of hardware, writing user policy (especially) and other admin-type stuff, and it acted as the base from which I built the skill set that I earn a living from now. So good luck!

  • Heh (Score:3, Funny)

    by Pres. Ronald Reagan ( 659566 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:21PM (#5846924)
    Why don't you save a few steps and just give yourself the daily beatings and wedgies?
  • So many warnings about computer club...

    Computer club is still kinda cool (nerdy but most will respect your knowledge).

    But make sure you never start an after-school D&D club, or have DM Manuals in your school bag... no one will never ever over-look that. Forever... trust me.

  • Back when I was in High School (3 years ago), I started a Computer Club as well. After the second year, I was able to get the school to give us money to mess with computers, AND I got a class credit for giving seminars to fellow students. Also, this led to me having a cush job at university. So, read on...
    1. Now, go to the administration and explain to them how knowing about computers and technology helps students to better interact in the world today and how it creates better job opportunities, etc. BS
  • Remember that software piracy can be a big issue for an after school computer club.

    So don't forget to petition the school for a fat pipe with multiple IPs so you can hook up a few people to kazaa and gnutella at the same time without all that NAT crap.
  • It is not just your computer club, it is the opportunity for students after you leave to have a computer club. You start this, it is your resposibility to the student to come, that it behaves in a professional and reasonable mannor. get caught with 1 piece of porn, and it will be over.
  • At one time a general computer club kinda made sense. This was before the web and before there were good magazines or books on particular topics (for example, programming graphics on the Apple II circa 1980).

    Now, you need a point. Is the point to learn to write computer games? Is the point to learn different programming languages? Is the point to learn about security? Is the point to learn about system administration? Just getting together to yap about AMD vs. Intel and Linux distros and all that is
  • Kai_MH's suprisingly good use of the English language means he/she definitely isn't a sophomore in High School, at least not in the U.S. Admit it, Kai_MH, before this prank goes too far and someone gets hurt!
  • Best of luck, but I suspect the time for clubs like that has passed. With everybody on the internet there's less need to popularize the hobbyist aspects of computers and the internet. Especially those with an agenda like, "I'd like to educate my peers on the alternatives to Windows (Linux and Open Source)..."

    My advice: Start a newsletter or a website and e-mail it to anyone who is interested.

  • by mustangdavis ( 583344 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:32PM (#5847079) Homepage Journal

    First, remember that you are only young once ... and once it is gone, it is gone! Go play basketball, football, and/or baseball while your body will still allow you to do this! ... and while you're at it, get laid while you can still get a girl that hasn't had time to learn what good sex is yet! (Not to be mean, but it doesn't sound like you have much experience in this department)

    ... then after you blow out you knee / ruin your back / tear a muscle / etc .... playing sports, then you can retire to playing with computers ....

    But if you MUST play games now, go to a LAN party, like most other people do .... or just play them from home periodically. Why in God's name would you want to start a club that is going to guarentee a good ass beating everyday for you and your proposed club associates?

    I have a LAN party every other month, and there are MANY athletes that show up to these events, but even a "jock" is going to pick on or beat up the computer club geeks on a regular basis.

    Don't get me wrong, computers are great things ... but their not worth ruining your social life during a ppoint in your life that you should be enjoying (not healing after your weekly ass kicking). People are cruel and are quick to label and stereo-type people .... it is ok to do what you like, but don't do things that are going to take any little bit of "coolness" out of what you enjoy and get you labeled a looser.

    In a couple years, there will be MANY more people doing what you want to do now, but while you are in high school, this probably won't go over too well. Wait until you are in college to do something like this .... but don't tell the people in your dorm that you do this ... otherwise you'll miss out on all of the 18-20 yr old ass!!!

    This isn't a flame or a troll, just the facts!

  • I would love to put some funny quip here, but I'm not that funny.

    I was part of a group of people that started a computer science club at a college that I never finished. The first thing you should do is find a friend or four that share your interest and are willing to work towards the goal of having a operational computer club.

    Next like someone else said, find a teacher that wants to help sponsor this club. If you don't have a computer class try one of the teachers that seems to always be playing with
  • by kafka93 ( 243640 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:33PM (#5847084)
    All of the posts along the lines of "go out and enjoy yourself while you can" miss the point that many of us *enjoy* dealing with computers, hacking code, etc. The whole "go out and kick a ball around" attitude seems fairly obnoxious, to me - it's precisely the attitude of the "jocks" and of overzealous parents for whom "childhood" can only mean "competitive outdoor activity".

    It may well be that these kids will spend the rest of their lives in front of computers -- but it also may well be that they'll enjoy doing it. Or, perhaps, that their formative experiences will give them an insight into technology that will serve them admirably in later life.

    I'd spin the "go out and enjoy yourself while you have time" notion on its head, and say "go out and push yourself, intellectually, while you can". Far from being intellectually stimulating, work for *many* people is stifling and dull - and leaves little energy for personal pursuits at the end of the day. The opportunities for 'fun' as an adult are, by contrast, almost endless, the only limited resource being people with whom to do it -- and, without wishing to get into "friendless geek" caricatures, it's probably easier for the adult to find people with common interests than it is for anyone of school-going age. We have cars, we have money, we have a greater understanding of ourselves and of who we'd like to spend time with.

    So, push yourself while you can -- set up your club, and weather any ridicule that may come your way. On that note, though, one warning: do endeavour to be humble and kind, difficult though that may seem. I recently sent an email to an old enemy of mine from school; he replied to apologise for his antagonism of me, and to tell me that his school years had been difficult for him thanks to his parents' divorce. It's a cliche, I know -- and besides, some kids are genuinely just nasty little bastards -- but do try to avoid treating your less technically/intellectually able peers with scorn.

    But don't listen to those who would tell you that they know better than you do how you should spend your time, or how you should live your life. If a computer club seems like a worthwhile pursuit for you, then by all means pursue it. If free software advocacy does it for you, then similarly - go for broke. You'll have plenty of time for buggering around with a football later in life -- and, if you're a "geek" in the traditional sense, you'll probably enjoy it more in later life when everyone else has started to develop a beer-gut or burned out.
    • by mfh ( 56 )
      I posted one of those "Enjoy yourself while you still can." posts.

      Like many, I got interested in technology early.

      There was no computer club at my school, and I wasn't exactly a social outcast, so I decided to skip the middle man and go straight to work in the "computer industry" at the age of 15. This was following a couple of non-tech jobs, including an office clerk-type role and an AutoCAD draftsman.

      I also got very involved in a local LUG, even so far as to call myself a co-founder, helped plan week
  • You realize, this will result in your getting beaten up on a regular basis. Later, after most of the emotional scaring has healed and you've made a few non-pixelated friends, someone will give you a job, and likely they'll then be scared to call you when they've "deleted the internet" or some such. Life has come full circle. Well kinda.
  • by grub ( 11606 )

    Don't be lame and have an After Hours Computer Club, be a Real Man and do what we did back in '82: an After Hours AD&D Club!
  • by Marasmus ( 63844 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:43PM (#5847207) Homepage Journal
    In jr. high, there was a teacher at my school who ran the computer lab (a dozen Mac LC-II's)... He volunteered to come in early and ran a before-school computer club. It ultimately boiled down to most kids playing freeware network games over appletalk, while one or two of them wrote BASIC programs to do silly things. Not incredibly constructive, but fun... and it got the geeks together for the first time. This led into high school...

    In high school, there were no clubs like this. I was taking drafting/architecture classes and spent a LOT of time in the art department. I ended up spending a year interning with a different art teacher, and we came up with this bright idea of creating a computer graphics class. So my intern class turned into a design project to help create this class. Somehow, we got the budget from the school to buy 15 tweaked-up (at the time) video-editing powermac's, an "old" amiga video toaster, and a low-end server. The first semester we ran a 2D graphics class that was extremely successful, and the second semester we ran a video course that did relatively-simple video editing. Just the first year alone brought together SO many geeks to collaborate on ideas and projects. You'd be amazed how many successful companies have been formed from that first group of students!

    I graduated, but I hear that these days (5 years later) that teacher now spends 3/4 of her day on computer graphics classes! There's rumor of it becoming a "magnet school" for computer graphics. They do more advanced/realtime video editing (the morning announcements are on TV, with realtime production!!), as well as 3D rendering in the level-3 course.

    In both cases, an interested teacher was necessary to sponsor the program and generally oversee it. Much of the time students can provide the creative ideas for the club/class to work on. Oh, also... Get some interested students together and have them ask their parents if their employer has older PC's they want to get rid of. The sponsoring teacher can ask the staff to do the same thing. A LOT of medium to large companies have a ton of computers that they'll donate in order to get a tax writeoff. This is an awesome way to get 50 machines (20 working, 20 half-working, 20 just for spare parts) for free, and you'd be amazed how many people are happy to do this. You can very easily get too many PCs!

    And honestly... If you get a stack of P3-500's with 64mb RAM, you could build some COOL stuff in the club. Build a multi-subnet routed network (a little BSD firewall makes a KILLER simple router), just to learn how it works. A web server. How bout a MOSIX cluster of web servers? Now THAT would be a club I would've loved to join in high school... Instead, I just built it all in my room and turned it into a company (well, sort of...) :)
  • by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:46PM (#5847249) Homepage
    When you get the club up and running, post your web address so we can educate the club about a good ol' fashioned slashdotting.

  • by neema ( 170845 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:48PM (#5847263) Homepage
    Many schools don't have advanced placement computer science courses. From someone who took the test last year, I can tell you that it was ridiculously easy. As long as you know your shit, it's not hard to prepare for the examination in a quarter of the time it takes schools to do so. You do not need to be in an AP course to take the test

    Push the club as something that will not only be good to list on your college application, but might get you college credits as well as teach you a few things about computers. Play around with coding and perhaps make it unconvential (but not illegal, obviously).

    In the end, if you could get a few 4's or 5's out of the members who sign up to take the test, the school might take notice (having kids who do well on the AP exams is what schools are ranked on in some part) and help you out with your endeavor the next year around.
  • by Maul ( 83993 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:49PM (#5847265) Journal
    First of all, you need some sort of educational goals for the club. You seem that you have some good ideas. You want to teach peers about various things you know about technology. You just need to make sure that the other members who will join your club have the same goals.

    Which means at every one of your meetings, you should have a topic to discuss and stay in that vicinity.

    Many people, especially administrators, might see your club as a hacker group or a bunch of teenage warez traders before it even starts. So be sure that none of that type of stuff goes on in the club at all.

    As far as all the warnings that you'll suffer wedgies, etc... I'd really not worry about it too much. A/V people are always depicted as being the brunt of the football team's abuse on TV, but at my high school the A/V people were actually seen as being pretty cool because they showed off exaclty what types of stuff they did.

    Also, if "computers" is too broad of a subject for a club, you can change your focus, and at the same time de-nerdify it. Provide a project that students can put together and show off to the school at large.

    For example, if you are interested in games, you could start a digital entertainment club. You can talk about game projects, stuff like SDL and OpenGL and then you might be able to wow the normal kids by getting a Linux kit for PS2 and making a simple game on it or something similar.
  • by Archfeld ( 6757 ) * <treboreel@live.com> on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:49PM (#5847272) Journal
    the bottom line they (school admin's) said was access liability, we got around it by agreeing to take on a limited number of 4-6 graders and teach them basic computer skills after school. Not only did we feel good about it, it looks AWESOME of on a HS transcript. Once we got a few students word spread and we were given FULL access to the lab. Long after I and the other founding geeks left it has continued and grown to include access to the local community colleges lab and mainframe.
  • Get a Sponsor (Score:5, Informative)

    by repetty ( 260322 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:53PM (#5847313) Homepage
    You have to get a member of the faculty to sponsor you.

    That doesn't mean money, but it does involve their time and their commitment to advocate to their peers in your behalf.

    The football team has faculty sponsors (they're called "coaches"), as do the drill team, band, speech and drama groups.

    You need one.

    Your sponsor will be the person who can get facilities for your meetings, install-fests, guest speakers, etc. They may even be able to procure a little cash from whatever student activity fund your school may have, for refreshments.

    When you are searching for a sponsor, there are couple things to remember about teachers:

    1. There are good teachers and there are bad teachers.
    2. Bad teachers are relatively rare.
    3. Most of the good teachers have been beaten down.
    4. Good teachers LOVE people like you.

    Go talk to the instructors in the science and the art departments after school hours. The instructors that hang around late are the good ones. Skip the english department.

    Knock on the door of the faculty breakroom at various times of the day over the course of the week and tell them that you are looking for a sponsor.

    Your persistance will be noticed.

    Somewhere in your school is an adult that can make your life much easier, someone who'd love to help you if only they knew who you are.

  • by sjehay ( 83181 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @04:59PM (#5847393) Homepage

    We were in the same position; I was one of the founding members of our Computer Society, which has since been flourishing - here's what we did.

    First and foremost, the absolute requirement is to have a sizeable number of people who are interested. I'm afraid that in my experience 'build it and they will come' does not cut much ice in this area - we had about a dozen people, which is enough to fill a small-ish room and so make meetings to voice support seem well-attended and popular :-) Basically, by asking nicely, and by getting the support of a Computing teacher, we managed to persuade the Powers That Be to grant us the use of a lab - complete with Ethernet & power around the room - outside lesson times to do what we liked with. We also managed to scrounge a few machines that were going spare - old Macs, mostly. From little acorns...

    We used to hang around in there and experiment a bit, and very quickly the mini-network we had established (totally separate, as an imposed requirement, from the then-repressive school one - and so without any internet connectivity etc.) began to grow. People donated parts or computers; someone's Dad's surgery was clearing stuff out, so we got a server and a whole bunch of Vectras; we picked up arcane things like ancient Suns and SGIs; we bought a bunch of decent Compaq desktops off a failed .com for 25 quid each. We soon had more computers - a few dozen - than space, plus a good collection of books, bits, software, etc.

    We all helped set things up, fix broken things, install software, build a proper network with roamng home directories, unified LDAP logons across multiple platforms, etc. (mostly Linux, but a few other Unices and a bit of Windows and classic Mac OS on the side...) It became actually usable as a resource, and people who weren't initially interested started to use our systems to learn to program, etc., which was very hard to do elsewhere. We lent them books, helped where we could, and so on. We ran projects, like robocode [ibm.com] competitions, which were popular even with younger members of the school. We experimented with new things, like beta releases of Mac OS X, and Windows remote desktop things, so that we now provide all of the Windows applications from one application server to the Linux desktops. And so on, and so forth. We got up to all sorts of things (like this [slashdot.org]), wrote various neat bits of code and taught ourselves a great deal in the process.

    A few of us wrote some software which turned out to be very useful to the school (a fairly advanced web-based content management system) and fought long political battles over how far pupils were to be trusted with such matters - would we put secret backdoors in, and so on. We finally reached an agreement which now promotes this sort of activity (previously frowned upon but now with more projects in the pipeline), and, as a bonus, guaranteed us the continued use of our lab and an internet connection.

    Anyway, I hope this gives you some idea of what it was like for us and was vaguely helpful... Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Hrm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by retro128 ( 318602 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @05:10PM (#5847542)
    I don't know how your school is, but I tried to set up the same thing when I was in high school. I was even able to secure an old XT, put WWIV on it and use a phone line in one of the teachers' rooms to set up a BBS.

    I was hoping to not only create a club, but use the BBS as a public forum for the students. I spread the word and the activities of myself and the group I was in got printed up in the district newsletter. We didn't get one kid to call that BBS besides the people who had a hand in setting it up, let alone anyone to join our club.

    There weren't even any takers from the already-existing Math/Computer Club, mostly beacuse those kids were into math, not computers, and its membership was so weak that I somehow got elected to Vice President when I sat in on one of their meetings.

    Eventually I was pretty much the only one calling the BBS, so I said screw it and opened it up to the community, bought a copy of TradeWars, got rid of the school related messageboards and replaced them with general ones, and let them have at it. At that point I pretty much pulled the plug on my idea.

    The moral of the story: Joe Student will not be interested in what you have to say about Windows vs. Linux. 3/4 of the stuff you will say will fly over their heads anyway. I hate to tell you to not even bother, but my bet is that you already know everyone in your school who knows anything about computers...All 10 of them. Why go though the formality of starting a club? Just approach these guys and ask them if they want to talk shop during lunch, or maybe go to a LAN party sometime, or have a Linux hacking session after school? I met some of my best friends this way.
  • Just Ask! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dunkalis ( 566394 ) <crichards AT gmx DOT net> on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @05:10PM (#5847544)
    Just get a bunch of friends together, and go talk to the administration. Our school has a Cisco certification course, and while most of the members of the club come from that course, some, like myself, don't.

    And, you won't become the societal rejects that everyone is yelling about here. I *personally* don't have a girlfriend right now, but a lot of the others do. It will have no impact on your social life, contrary to popular belief.

    Another comment I've seen is that there is no need for a computer club, since everyone has one. In ours, everyone could be considered an enthusiast. We aren't the average AIM-junkie teens, even if we use AIM to communicate when we're on our computers. Many of us run Linux (myself included), program (ditto), and generally know a lot about computers.

    We aren't social outcasts, we just have different interests than others. It may be different because we are living in a generally upper-class area, I don't know.

    However, in starting this club, you'll meet many cool interesting people. LAN parties and dumpster diving is fun!
  • by gmplague ( 412185 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @05:19PM (#5847653) Homepage
    Most schools have a system to start clubs (how do you think that all those other ones got started?) You go to your vice-principal's office, pick up a club-request form. Then you have to get a faculty sponsor for the club (that is, a teacher who will support the club and sit there for club meetings and be accountable for what goes on there). Then you probably need to get a petition signed by a bunch of students. You will probably also need to fill things out on the form that state club purpose, etc. Once you've got that going, turn it in to your administrator and wait for approval. (I can't possibly see a club like this being denied in this day and age.)
  • by dculp ( 669961 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @06:04PM (#5848150)

    I am a teacher in a public Middle school in Carrollton, TX. I started a robotics club this year in order teach students robotics design, programming, teamwork and other skills. We use Lego Mindstorms and Handyboards in our club and program them in C, specifically Interactive C and Not Quite C (NQC). We also have one system running Linux as both IC and NQC are available for Linux.

    My administration is very supportive of the club, providing money and other suppport through the year. The main difficulties in the club was raising money for the equipment and to pay the fee for the Botball [botball.org] competition we entered.

    I applied for a grant with our local Educational Foundation and received $1,000 to fund the initital purchase of equipment. Your school district probably has an educational foundation that provides grants to teachers and students. Find a willing faculty member to sponsor your club and help you find funding and support.

    Before I received that grant I began teaching the students C using a free Windows compiler I found on the net. It was perfect as it allowed the students to write Windows console applications without worrying about the code over head of a real Windows application. You can find the Bloodshed complier here [bloodshed.net]

    After we got our initial equipment I searched the net for grants available to public school teachers to fund technology applications. I applied for an $8,500 grant from The Verizon Foundation [verizon.com]. This money will be used to pay our Botball entry fees for next year, and buy more advanced equipment for the students returning next year. I have had so much interest in the robotics club that I will probably have three clubs next year.

  • by fthiess ( 669981 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @08:06PM (#5849153) Homepage
    We had a computer club when I was in high school; FYI, the best fund raiser we found, BY FAR, was to run a computer dating service. We'd have booths at various student activities where kids could sign up--they'd pay a fee and fill out a short questionaire, which we would input into the database. To get customized date suggestions printed out they would have to apy another fee. I never heard of anyone *actually* going on any dates based on the service, but everyone was dying to find out who the computer would match them up with. Like I said, this was a serious money maker for us!

    At the same booths we would also sell customized biorthym charts--utter rubbish, but hey, people pay for horoscopes too! This didn't earn as much as the dating service, but was still a good secondary product.

    Good luck!
  • Games (Score:3, Funny)

    by shannara256 ( 262093 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @08:14PM (#5849212) Homepage
    If playing networked games are to be a part of your club, when you're working on your speech/application for why the club should be allowed don't forget to mention all the skills you'll be learning:

    * Dual limitless resource management (Total Annihilation)
    * Dual limited resource management (*craft)
    * Single limit(ed|less) resource management (C&C, TA: Kingdoms)
    * Cooperation (team games)
    * Group coordination and leadership (ie, setting up an attack)
    * Civil design (base layout)
    * A deeper understanding of physics (various FPSs, plus a host of other games... like Worms!)
    * Learning to use the right tool for a job (IPX vs TCP/IP, certain units in RTS games, weapons in Worms...)

    Be creative! Pick a game you like and go marketing on it.
  • by I kan Spl ( 614759 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2003 @10:07PM (#5849860) Homepage
    I was involved in a computer club at the high school (houston TX) I went to back in the dark ages of 3 years ago...

    We had a computer club, and a nice one at that. The club met (mostly) every day at lunch, and sometimes on weekends to have coding contests with other local high schools. Setting up a club in a high school is fairly easy, simply sign a few forms ad find a teacher willing to stay in the classroom during lunch and you are set there. The hard part was getting the hardware out of the cluches of the administration that knew nothing of computers. They had rules regarding things that could, and could not be loaded onto computers, and when they learned that we were going to be loading unix onto one of them they had a cow. We got around that problem by having teachers donate their old computers (the school was upgrading their comps. and givng the old ones to the teachers, who were going to throw them away.) to the teacher in charge of the computer club (not to the club itself as they would then fall under the rules of the school regarding computers, and not to the students so that they would not disappear rom the club when we graduated). We then had about 16 P2 boxes and a nice little server that had seen better days. We did a bunch of tweaking, a bunch of installing, and played more starcraft then probably anyone at blizzard ever did...

    You may also want to look into a group called the American Computer Science Leauge (ACSL) if you are going to be doing any programming for your club. They have 6 (Im not sure about that number) written programming contests in which students have 72 hours to complete a program, then it is 'tested' with mostly boundary-case data. If the club gets a high enough score then it can be invited to nationals, which is usully someplace cool.

    Oh yeah... one other thing... make sure any computers that are owned by the club are clearly labeled as being not school property. The rent-a-cop at our high school had a fit when he saw us carrying 16 computer out of the school on a saturday morning. That was fun ;)...

  • Find a local LUG (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jroysdon ( 201893 ) on Thursday May 01, 2003 @03:12AM (#5850948) Homepage

    Personally, I found just about everything in HS a big waste of time, mainly due to the other students who almost always succeeded in wrecking anything that could even be remotely fun or interesting. I'm not bitter ;-p

    I suggest finding your local Linux Users Group and if it looks promising, see if you can put up a flier or two at the school about it.

"Pull the wool over your own eyes!" -- J.R. "Bob" Dobbs