Putting Parkman Coders in a box

 |   Sean Everett, Executive Director, Detroit Public Library Foundation

Students take part in Detroit Public Library's Parkman Coders program.

Over the last couple of years, we have watched Q. Goss (Q) develop and shape the Parkman Coders Program at the Detroit Public Library. This past summer saw the addition of Code Grow, a program that blended urban agriculture with coding education. Students spend the summer growing a summer garden and checked their progress with time-lapse cameras and water sensors they built and coded.

After meeting with the Microsoft Cities team at the end of the summer, we knew one thing for sure: we had to figure out a way to expand the work Q was doing at the Parkman Branch to every library and community group in the city. My team and I spent a lot of time considering options to scale Parkman Coders and decided on 3 goals:

  1. Increase coding interest
  2. Educate on importance
  3. Offer guidance and opportunities for further exploration

We knew there would be challenges in the expansion of the program as having Q in five spaces at once wasn’t an option, so we started brainstorming. While randomly taking care of my grocery shopping, I saw the answer staring at me in the form of home meal kits. Could we engineer Parkman Coders into a kit?! That moment in Aisle 3 became the guiding idea in our mission: taking the best of Parkman Coders and creating coding education kits that support up to 10 students per box.

parkman coders grow code
Miss Q works hand-in-hand with Parkman Coders students in the Code Grow program.

The plan would begin initially with librarians at the Detroit Public Library having access to a self-paced training program and Python certification course. Upon completion of the initial training, they will be eligible to receive Q Box 1.0. The box will include all essential components for running a 6-week coding education camp at their library branch. As librarians progress and gain confidence in their skills, they will have access to expansion kits to continue growing code education opportunities at their branches.  

Together with the support of the Microsoft Cities team, we are proud to provide innovative programming to the citizens of Detroit, seeking to impact the continued advancement of all phases of their lives. The Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for access to empowering opportunities that make a difference within the communities served by The Detroit Public Library System. We look forward to providing this program to all community groups within the city.  

Sean EverettSean Everett is the Executive Director of the Detroit Public Library Foundation. While attending Wayne State University working towards a degree in psychology, the Main Library was his favorite place to study. He started as a volunteer with the Foundation in 2013 and was named the Executive Director in 2015. Prior to working at the Foundation and living in Detroit, Sean spent 10 years working in the private sector holding positions in Human Resources and Operations Management.