STEM

Microsoft Store and B~STEM Host One-Day Only Events

Girls learn STEM at Microsoft Store YouthSpark Summer ProgramAccording to BestColleges.com, only 6.7 percent of women are graduating with STEM degrees. With this we have a responsibility today to educate and inspire females of all ages to advance our world by pursuing careers in traditionally male dominated industries.

B~STEM Project and Microsoft Store understand this responsibility. B~STEM Project is an organization focused on helping young girls and women to engage, learn and grow within business and STEM-related disciplines across industries. From June 23 – 30, B~STEM will host We Hack Too, an eight-day virtual hackathon. Select Microsoft Store locations are excited to host kick-off events on Friday, June 23, and set everyone up for a week of fun with a Business Development and Design Incubator.

The events will give high school and college women opportunities to collaborate with professional mentors to design products and develop business strategies, while 8 to 12-year-olds will be invited to attend coding and gaming workshops.

These free events will take place in the following store near you:

Each store event will have its own unique theme spanning STEM-related topics including clean energy, gaming, entertainment and digital media, biotechnology and tech startups. To learn more about the topic of the event at your local Microsoft Store and to register for the event, please visit bstemproject.org.

Not located in a city with an event? Microsoft Store offers a range of free programs, year-round that empower youth by providing direct access to technology and hands-on learning. If you haven’t been to a Microsoft Store program yet, take a look at the video below that captures Microsoft Store YouthSpark camp energy and testimonials from real student and parent participants.

To see a full list of available in-store events and programs at your local Microsoft Store visit, Microsoft.com.

Civic Chat — Networking Our Neighborhoods: Gabrielle Lyon, Chicago Architecture Foundation and Heather Van Benthuysen, Chicago Public Schools

Civic education has always been a priority in Chicago, as a city that prides itself in its political involvement and civic engagement. Yet it has only recently become a requirement for Chicago’s students. Heather Van Benthuysen, Civic Education Manager at Chicago Public Schools, has changed this, and is working to inspire Chicago students to become active participants in their communities through experiential civic education.

Remember the Wacker’s Manual of the Plan of Chicago? Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has partnered with the Chicago Architecture Foundation for No Small Plans, a graphic novel inspired by and built for CPS teens based on the Wacker’s Manual. The 144-page novel follows the adventures of teens in Chicago’s past (1928), present (2017), and future (2211) in Chicago’s individual neighborhoods.

In Shelley Stern Grach’s latest Civic Chat: Networking Our Neighborhoods, she sits down with Heather Van Benthuysen and Gabrielle Lyon, Vice President of Education and Experience at Chicago Architecture Foundation, to explore No Small Plans and civic education in Chicago.

Watch Shelley’s chat with Heather and Gabrielle live on Advisor.tv.

Support No Small Plans — purchase or donate a copy in advance here.

Civic Chat — Networking Our Neighborhoods: Lauren Woods, Service Learning Coordinator, Chicago Public Schools

How do we get students to engage in service?

At Chicago Public Schools (CPS), high school students (freshman to senior year) are taking part in service learning that extends past the limitations of volunteerism. While a typical volunteer opportunity is standalone, students are taking part in long-term service relationships where they build relationships with local organizations and develop lasting commitments to service.

Shelley Stern Grach’s latest Civic Chat: Networking Our Neighborhoods spotlights CPS’ commitment to service learning with Lauren Woods, Service Learning Coordinator.

Watch Shelley’s chat with Lauren live on Advisor.tv.

Lake View High School Kicks Off 2017 STEM Challenge — This Year, A Focus on Civic Engagement

Microsoft mentor Larry Kuhn workshops with Lake View students. Credit: ISTI

A new year usually means making lots of changes — sometimes simply for the sake of change. My view is that when you have a program that is working extraordinarily well, keep those changes to a minimum and continue the positive momentum. That is exactly what PJ Karafiol, Principal, and Tyrese Graham, Assistant Principal of Lake View High School have done with the 2017 STEM Challenge, sponsored by Microsoft and managed in partnership with the Illinois Science and Technology Institute (ISTI).

Microsoft has supported Lake View in the STEM Challenge for the past two years. As we enter into our third year of the Challenge, we decided to keep the focus on the same challenge as last year: “How can the Internet of Things (IoT) help the Lake View Community?” Since this is a broad challenge, it allows tremendous freedom for the students to look at the benefits of IoT from a physical school perspective, a community perspective, or a civic perspective (such as transportation, logistics, etc.). Similarly, Microsoft is funding the Challenge process, and is bringing in a great set of employees to be mentors during. The cycle kicked off on January 17th with an auditorium filled with students, faculty and mentors, as well as a design workshop to increase student collaboration and communications.

Lake View students workshop designs at the STEM Challenge. Credit: Shelley Stern Grach

So, what is new and different?

This year, the program will be integrated into the Civics classes. As you may know, Civics is a required class for all Illinois students, thanks to strong support from the McCormick Foundation and the State.

Bringing the STEM Challenge into the Civics classes offers the program to more students because it is a wider scope than technology. While we certainly don’t want to lose the “STEM” part of STEM Challenge, the focus is more on the civic engagement aspect of the solution — technology is a key enabler, but technology alone can’t solve a key community problem. It’s the integration of creativity, collaboration and communications with technology that will prove the most effective.

Duane Davis, ISTI’s STEM Challenge coach, gives feedback to students. Credit: ISTI

We gave the students a few more hints for success:

  1. Make the most of your time with your mentors
  2. Use the Mentor Matching Engine, designed by ISTI, frequently. The mentors love the flexibility to interact with the students on line as well as in person.
  3. As you build your solutions, in addition to the documentation, PowerPoints and verbal presentations, try to include something more physical in your design — perhaps a diorama, a model, something electronic or robotic.

It’s early in the process for this new group participating in the STEM Challenge. But if the energy and interest evident at the Kickoff is any indication, this will be the best STEM Challenge yet!

Below are some of the best tweets from the Kickoff.

 

Helping CHA Students “Take Flight”

cha-event

Photo via CHA, Twitter.

We spend a lot of time in Chicago focusing on helping CPS students get into college. But how do we help ensure they are successful and connecting to the business world while they are in college?

The terrific team at the Chicago Housing Authority has an answer: The “Take Flight: Staying the Course” Program. Managed by Crystal C. Coats,  Senior Manager, Corporate and External Partnerships, the “Take Flight” program focuses on CHA students who are in college (mostly freshmen-juniors) who grew up in the CHA community, and who are getting velvet glove treatment to make sure they are doing well, in college, have a resource network locally, and are introduced to prospective employers for jobs after they graduate.

Microsoft Chicago was honored to support this program. The students were coached on how to interact with the “Professionals” while over 20 organizations hosted tables for a round-robin speed dating discussion with the students. The Professionals ranged from theatre and arts to health care and technology. All provided a career path or internships for the students to learn about. Many thanks to the following organizations for providing time, talent and guidance to the students:

cha-to-doAt the Microsoft table, we had a steady flow of inquiries and questions. It was clear to me that CHA have selected a wonderful group of students, who were doing well in college (many were outside of Chicago so we also discussed their first “away” experience), interested in internships and planning for their career, or just looking for advice as they decided on their area of concentration or major. I was especially impressed with:

  • A young lady who was majoring in Computer Science. When I asked her how she became interested in CS, she said it was from a summer camp she attended at IIT/Illinois Tech while in high school. Hats off to IIT!
  • A great conversation with a young lady who had recently switched her major to Criminal Justice. We are both fans of the “Chicago PD” TV show and we discussed the previous night’s episode. An unspeakable crime was solved using Big Data to analyze DNA sample matches to narrow down and identify the suspect. She didn’t realize the connection to software in helping solve crimes. It was a fun, enlightening conversation on both sides.

Congratulations to the entire CHA team for developing and flawlessly executing such an important milestone for their students. We were honored to participate and look forward to future events.

Celebrating the Hour of Code with Detroit Middle School Students

dsc_0178

In recognition of Microsoft reaching over 300 Detroit Middle School students for Hour of Code on Friday December 9th, 2016, Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey, awarded Microsoft Technology Center the prestigious Spirit of Detroit award.  In addition, the Technology Center was also recognized by Congresswomen, Brenda Lawrence, with a Proclamation declaring December 9th Microsoft Technology Center Day.

dsc_0173The Microsoft Southfield MTC hosted Hour of Code with students from Hamilton Academy Middle School in Detroit. The Hamilton students won an essay competition for the privilege to attend Hour of Code at the MTC.  The 13 middle schools who participated in the competition were able to experience Hour of Code via Skype. Charles Stacy Harris and Kevin H. Smith broadcast from the MTC while the Hamilton students were treated to a tour.

We are honored and humbled with the award and proclamation.

dsc_0163 Thank you to the Drew Costakis and the entire MTC Staff and a special thank you to our partner, Sandra Ware, Director of Community Engagement, MTA Elementary School, for creating a great day for the students!

Corliss High School Kicks Off STEM Challenge

Corliss students work together to build a marshmallow tower

For the past three years, Microsoft has partnered with the Illinois Science and Technology Institute (@ISTCoalition) and Lake View High School (@SCS_LakeviewHS) for the STEM Challenge. This is a great collaborative program which ties together curriculum, technology and mentoring from Microsoft employees to complement the teachers’ instruction on how to solve real world problems using technology. This year, we are thrilled to add Corliss High School as a Chicago Early College STEM School partner. We recently launched the STEM Challenge Kickoff event at Corliss on November 9th.

The focus this year is for the students to look at how the Internet of Things (IoT) can result in solutions for community issues in the Corliss neighborhood. The kick off day began with Dr. Leonard Harris, the Corliss principal, welcoming the group and outlining the agenda for the day, which saw many opportunities for mentor-student collaboration. From an ice breaker activity to a team building marshmallow tower workshop, the mentors from Microsoft worked hands-on with their student teams to start building the relationship that they will maintain through the end of April 2017. Further engagement occurred over a networking lunch where the Corliss students came prepared with questions about the mentors’ career paths, expertise and roles within Microsoft. The kick off came to a close with the Corliss STEM Challenge student groups presenting to Microsoft on their IoT research to date, and a group photo showcases the progress already made on this year’s partnership.

tower-building-10

Students and mentors brainstorm together

Students will continue to work with their Microsoft mentors while researching their solutions with a school-wide share out planned toward the end of the project. This year’s collaboration will wrap up on April 27th at the Illinois Science and Technology Institute (ISTI) STEM Challenge Showcase, featuring presentations from 26 schools working with 12 companies.

We would like to thank the terrific faculty and staff at Corliss High School and our long-time partners Emily Cooper and Allie Barwise from the ISTI. It will be great fun to have two schools learning about IoT this year…. maybe some friendly competition? Who knows?

Looking Back at Computer Science Education Week 2016

hour-of-code-gender

Last week, we joined a revolution as Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) launched worldwide, inspiring students to incorporate CS education into their daily lives. We celebrated by sharing stories from Lake View High School and Corliss Early College STEM High School, schools around the Chicago area that are focusing on computer science as a priority, and by participating in Hour of Code events throughout the Chicago Metro area.

Meanwhile, our community engaged on the same level, hosting Hour of Code events at Chicago Public Schools and beyond. We’re thrilled to see our neighbors committed to the future of education, honoring the importance of computer science for all.

A look at local celebrations of CSEdWeek:

Civic Chat — Networking Our Neighborhoods: Dr. Leonard Harris, Principal of Corliss High School

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-10-07-35-am
We’re proud to support our schools in Chicago that embrace STEM and technology in their curricula and day-to-day processes. One of these schools is Corliss Early College STEM High School, where an integrated STEM curriculum helps students build strong foundations for any career field. Corliss High School is a Chicago Early College STEM School, where students in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood can earn both a high school diploma and college credits.

In Shelley Stern Grach’s latest Civic Chat: Networking Our Neighborhoods, she sits down with Dr. Leonard Harris, Corliss High School’s principal, and announces Microsoft Chicago’s new partnership with Corliss. Dr. Harris discusses how the school has grown in the past four years since joining the Chicago STEM program and highlights a new course — Broadcast Technology.

Watch Shelley’s chat with Dr. Harris live on Advisor.tv.

Ensuring Computer Science For All

Each December, Microsoft is proud to partner on a global level with code.org and their Hour of Code program. The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 45 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104. Find free tutorials here: https://hourofcode.com/us

To support the Early College STEM Schools and the Computer Science 4 All program, Chicago Public Schools and local nonprofits turn their focus to enhancing STEM and STEAM skills through the Hour of Code (HoC). We’re delighted to share with you a series of guest blogs from leaders at CPS about why Computer Science skills are so important to students for their long term success. Each story is a little different, but all reinforce the positive impact coding and Computer Science skills have on the education process.

— Shelley Stern Grach

cs-for-all_chiWe’ve come a long way in three years. CS4All at Chicago Public Schools officially launched during CS Ed Week in 2013, with the goal of getting computer science education to every student in our district, starting with the graduating class of 2020. That first step is now close to being a reality—this year’s freshmen are now required to graduate with a full-year course in computer science under their belt. We are offering such a course at 63 of the district’s 106 traditional high schools, and will work with the remaining 43 to get them there over the coming year. 91 elementary schools are official CS4All schools.

So what’s left for us to do during CS Ed Week? Quite a lot, as it happens. We’ll touch on two big events we have going on this week, one that we were excited to celebrate earlier this week and one lasting until January 6.

Family Night of Code @ Walt Disney Magnet | 12/5

Disney is an excellent example of a school doing CS right. Their leadership have pioneered the rollout of CS curriculum at a large elementary school (1600 students), have piloted a number of new curricula, and this week are working to share some of what they have accomplished. On December 5 from 4 PM to 7 PM, Disney hosted MV GATE to prepare parents, teachers and tech companies from around the district to run a Family Night of Code as well as to bring CS home effectively. MV GATE is devoted to bringing parents into the world of CS alongside their students, and has been featured on the White House’s website as well as on the front page of the New York Times as a leader in CS education.

Code60+ | 12/5 to 1/6

The Hour of Code as a beginning. To guide students beyond an hour of code, we are proud to announce the launch of Code60+ in partnership with the Digital Youth Network, the City of Chicago, and DePaul University. Code60+ is a structured opportunity for students, parents, and teachers to further explore computer science concepts and earn badges on the Chicago City of Learning Program. Participants will have daily and weekly challenges to win Chromebooks by seeing who (individuals and schools) can complete the most hours of coding and CS education. Code60+ will run from December 5 through January 6. You can get going at ChicagoCodes.org, and tell us how you are participating with the hashtag #chicagocodes!

Where will our students go next? ‘The sky’s the limit!

Brenda Darden Wilkerson is the Sr. Manager for Computer Science and IT education at Chicago Public Schools. She leads the Computer Science for All initiative which will add computer science education to all Chicago Public Schools, K-12, building towards a CS graduation requirement within 5 years.