It’s Computer Science Education Week and here at Microsoft we are highlighting those in our community bring coding and STEM opportunities to Bay Area youth. Below are two perspectives from City Year AmeriCorps members serving on the Microsoft Team at Ocala STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) Academy in San Jose. Each corps member dives into their personal experience with STEM and discusses the impact coding has had on their classrooms and students. City Year, in partnership with Microsoft, runs an afterschool program for approximately 100 students at Ocala STEAM Academy, which includes a coding curriculum.
Tripp Mansfield is a 24-year-old graduate of Colgate University. He is from Philadelphia, PA. While at Colgate, Tripp studied Art and Art History, focusing on graphic design and digital art.
When the school year began in late August, one of my students felt as if he didn’t belong in school. He is a student who requires specialized attention and couldn’t really find his niche. When in class, this student would often disengage with his schoolwork, preferring to stare at a fixed point and mentally re-watch viral videos. Then, in City Year’s after-school program, he would reluctantly do his homework, dragging out every task, such as writing his name, to take up more time. Then, one day in late September, we introduced a coding lesson in partnership with Microsoft. Three months later, that once distracted student now excitedly approaches me almost every day. With the majority of his homework completed, he looks up at me with a toothy smile and asks, “Mr. T, is it Coding Time? I want to work on my game!” Not all of his homework answers are right, and he is far from an expert computer programmer, but coding gives him a place to belong in the school. It gives him an academic purpose to build upon … and that’s a great place to start!
Rebecca Zamdborg is a 22-year-old graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst from Brooklyn, New York. When at UMass, she studied Neuroscience, Biology and Philosophy.
I remember the look on my student’s face when she first made the connection between what we were doing in school and what she wanted her life to be. That look on her face showed a passion for technology, something I personally didn’t have the confidence to show until adulthood, even as a female with a STEM degree. This 11-year-old girl wants to be a fashion designer, and when I first began working with her, she showed zero interest in the concept of coding. She thought coding was only important for creating websites and video games, not a skill that would be useful for what she wanted to be do career wise One day, she came up with an idea – a program for designing t-shirts. Drawing that connection between the world of code and her dream job was the ultimate turning point. She now works hard to hone her mathematical skills in order to become a proficient coder, convinced that this proficiency will help her achieve her glamorous fashion dream job. Unbeknownst to her, this knowledge of math and code is also setting her up for academic success. I am sure that she will be part of the next generation of female coders, exceeding expectations and excelling with their analytical skills. Students like her are why I teach coding.
Looking for more coding opportunities? Find more coding tools and resources for students, parents, and educators atmicrosoft.com/h