Skills Night Reborn
In 2016, the Bedford County Amateur Radio Society brought a brand new kind of event to Central Pennsylvania, called a Skills Night. Skills Night is a “geeks night out”. This is a no-cost, informal, free-form night of food, games, and sharing of interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) related hobbies. BCARS put on three separate Skills Night, bringing in people from all over Pennsylvania and on one event, all the way from China.
Despite the many successes of skills night, the goal of brining in people from outside the amateur radio community was not being met. Event organizers decided it was time to rebrand and expand the skills night program for 2017. One of the first things we did was get interested people together to brainstorm. One of the first ideas brought forth was to find additional venues. The Bedford County Christian Church was very generous to allow us use of their facility, but it was difficult to find, and even when you pulled in, you might not know where to go. Another idea presented was to start having “skills night” during the day on a weekend. The original goal of having Skills Night on an weeknight was to allow local people to stop in after work. The problem with this was that it created an inconvenience for those traveling beyond 30 minutes away, which is a common fact of life within Central Pennsylvania.
Another great ideas had was to set each of our events up with a central theme or topic. During a skills night, we were inviting people to bring anything interesting that they had to show. This created a lot of questions as to what they should bring, and if they would have to do a full presentation on what they brought. The answers were “whatever you want” and “no”, but it still created a lot of confusion. By picking a topic like “raspberry pi/microcomputer”, “space travel”, or “emergency communications”, we can give people something to anchor to, while still allowing participants freedom to venture into unrelated topics. The topic for the first event was decided to be “drones” due to their incredible popularity currently.
Finally, we sent reachers out to different people, Facebook, Google Plus, and Reddit for naming ideas. The name “Skills Night” came from [Essex Ham UK](http://www.essexham.co.uk/skills-night) who first introduced the concept. In the US though, “skills night” gets confused with a “skills expo” or job fair. So we wanted a more appealing name, and preferably one that could be tied in with a food that would be served. Nerds Night Out was floated, but it didn’t tie in with food and was already overly used. After much feedback, we came up with the name “Nifty Noodle People”. A noodle usually refers to pasta, but is also slang for a mind or brain. We like to present nifty things at our nifty events, and people who enjoy using their noodle to think about nifty things like science, technology, engineering, or math are Nifty Noodle People. This theme can also be expanded to name each event, such as our upcoming Nifty Noodles and Drones meetup.