How might we inspire an interest in high school students in the high tech industry by playing with its connection to creativity and collaboration?

One Stone and the Idaho PTECH Network, together with Trailhead Boise, brought together their best bags of tricks to create PlayTech, a two-day gaming, hacking, coding, playing and 21st century skill building event designed to inspire high school students from across the state to pursue an education and career in the tech industry in Idaho.

PlayTech is part of the creative answer to a statewide economic challenge in workforce readiness. In a 2014 study by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation on education and employer needs, the top three emerging degree areas of interest to employers are computer science/technology, engineering, and business and economics. But in addition to these formal degree areas, employers are looking for “good communicators and problem solvers as well as people with life skills.” PlayTech is a mash up of all of these areas, packed into a whirlwind two-days of discovery and inspiration.

PlayTech “Players” heard from speakers in the high tech and start-up industry, polished their coding skills, and practiced their creativity through teambuilding and an epic game building/prototype event that blended high tech lingo with gaming smack talk. The Players also engaged in the L.I.F.E.x, an integrated simulation that helps demonstrate different futures based on a variety of life choices and circumstances. The event culminated with keynote speaker Joel Poppen, V.P. of Legal Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Micron Technology, who spoke to your “life resume” and the things that really matter: empathy, kindness, and pursuing your passions.


For an event with a diverse set of goals, the planning team was pleased to see positive results in all of the areas touched on in the two-day event. In a post-event survey, PlayTech Players reported increased confidence in themselves and their 21st century skills (especially collaboration, leadership and creativity), their ability in life/goal setting AND their tech skills.

95% reported “My experience at PlayTech helped me understand the steps I need to take to have the life I want.”
100% reported that their experience at PlayTech “helped me feel invested in my education.”
90% reported an increased interest in working in the tech or start up industries.

And in their own words about what they learned personally at PlayTech:

“That there are a lot of possibilities for me.”
“I enjoy coding AND I can come out of my shell.”
“I won't be afraid to fail.”
“I will see choices I make as parts of an important life path.”