Microsoft Chicago Welcomes CPS for Tech Co Day

 |   Anna Draft, MSFT Chicago Civic Tech Fellow

On Friday, February 2, Microsoft Chicago welcomed nearly 200 technical coordinators, STEM professionals and Chicago Public School (CPS) educators to the Microsoft Chicago office for the first annual CPS Tech Co Day. Throughout the day Microsoft employees presented on Microsoft’s vision in STEM Education and Digital Citizenship, and demoed Microsoft tools: Minecraft, LinkedIn, OneNote, Teams, Immersive Reader, Translator, and Windows.

The morning kicked off with a keynote by Microsoft Business Development Manager and STEM evangelist, Dr. Brooke Haag. Dr. Haag spoke passionately of Microsoft’s three STEM priorities: to move computer science forward, to support great teachers, and to create the student journey that best prepares students for the future.

As a student Fellow at Microsoft, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to see firsthand Microsoft’s STEM priorities in action. This past June, I witnessed Lake View High School students explore their school’s new Innovation Lab, a computer science workshop for students to create, invent, learn and make visions come to life through Microsoft products and services. To learn more about the Innovation Lab, see my blog post: Lake View High School Unveils Innovation Lab.

Fast forward to this past Friday, I watched a room of nearly 200 STEM professionals and CPS educators buzz with excitement as they learned about the array of Microsoft products and services that support computer science education. For many of the attendees, Dr. Haag’s robotic hand made from milkshake straws added extra enthusiasm (and hunger) for all that’s possible in computer science education.

From the unveiling of Lake View High School’s new Innovation Lab, to the buzz of computer science educators at Microsoft’s Tech Co Day, Microsoft’s priorities and vision for STEM education are designed to empower both students and teachers for success in the classroom and in the future.   

Following Dr. Haag’s keynote, we heard from Dave Fratatoni of Microsoft’s Digital Citizenship Team on the power of LinkedIn for educator networking, as well as on internet best practices for keeping students and devices safe and secure.

Adam Hecktman, Microsoft’s Director of Technology and Civic Innovation, followed with a presentation and conversation on the infinite teaching opportunities available through Minecraft: Education Edition. “Think of Minecraft as education’s biggest learning sandbox,” said Hecktman. The Minecraft: Education Edition has lesson plans for all grade levels and academic focuses, making Minecraft’s immersive environment fun and accessible for students and educators alike.

Microsoft’s Tech Co day concluded with demos on Microsoft’s OneNote, Teams, Immersive Reader, Translator, and Windows products. The day was met with great interest in how Microsoft’s products and services can positively contribute to classroom efficiency and teacher-student success.  

A very big thank to Dr. Brooke Haag, Dave Fratatoni, and Adam Hecktman for their presentations, the Accounts Team and Retail Store volunteers for their device demos and support, Simon Ibbitt for his superb organization and planning that made this day possible, and most especially, thank you to all the amazing CPS educators and STEM professionals that partook in Microsoft’s first annual CPS Tech Co Day – it is through your continued curiosity and dedication to computer science that students can be best prepared for the future!

More tweets from the day: