Microsoft Participates in Museum Science and Industry’s Science Works! and Provides Hour of Code Classes to Students

 |   Shelley Stern Grach

And they call this work? Volunteering with students at Museum Science and Industry’s Science Works! isn’t work — it’s fun and rewarding.

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Team Microsoft is proud to be one of over 20 companies, universities and government organizations who helped inspire our youth for careers in STEM at the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in October. Science Works! 2016 helps students learn about cool jobs and hot careers, straight from professionals during a two-day hands-on learning and career celebration. Open to youth and their families, with a wonderful supporting cast of teachers and chaperones, Science Works! provides an opportunity to play with technology, perform experiments, see what interesting jobs the STEM fields have to offer, and talk to STEM professionals about what excites them in their field. There was a wide range of choices to address nearly every area of interest: weather forecasting with CBS2 meteorologists and the mobile weather lab; energy lessons with ComEd; taking the heartbeat of dogs with veterinarians; and creating your own brainwave art through fun, interactive experiences.

Our team of Microsoft volunteers held three Hour of Code classes for nearly 100 elementary school students from Chicagoland. Working from the Code.org site, our team decided to work with the students on learning to code with Minecraft.

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Our team brought in Surface devices for the students to use and literally, every seat was filled. The students were amazing as they worked in pairs or teams of three to code and build with Minecraft. They were not only learning to code, they were learning about teamwork and collaboration. They were experimenting with critical thinking skills, figuring out logical steps in the coding process. And just as importantly, we learned along with the students. We learned that 5th and 6th graders have fine intuitive skills, and they create teams seamlessly while focusing on collaborative ways to achieve success. It was great to see how coding is just plain fun, as well as a skill that is valued in the workforce.

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Many thanks to the MSI staff who welcomed us to their wonderful, amazing space. Their planning and technical support provided a seamless experience for our team as well as the students. Congratulations to the teachers and chaperones who guided the students to our space, on time and ready to code. And most of all, a huge thank you to the students who showed their enthusiasm and passion for technology and who will be our leaders of tomorrow.

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Shelley Stern Grach
Shelley Stern Grach

They say that great work stems from a combination of passion and commitment, something that Shelley certainly possesses when it comes to her life and career. She currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. At Microsoft Chicago, she’s the Director of Civic Engagement, working at the intersection of computing and community, promoting STEM programs and using Microsoft technology to spur growth in the community. So no matter if it's work, play, or giving back, Shelley always makes sure her drive and professionalism help her complete her life's goals.