April 2015

Connect a Million Minds — It Ain’t Rocket Science Features NYC Computer Science Opportunity Fair

The newest episode of It Ain’t Rocket Science, a STEM series through Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds, showcases the recent NYC Computer Science Opportunity Fair! Learn more about the event’s mission to develop the next generation of computer science leaders, the 2015 White House Science Fair, and our recent event with NASA, SpaceApps NYC.

View the full episode below or on It Ain’t Rocket Science’s website here.

RECAP: Susan Crawford Discusses The Responsive Cities Initiative at Tow Center

Tuesday night, Columbia University‘s Tow Center for Digital Journalism hosted Susan Crawford, author of The Responsive City, in a presentation and panel discussion. Crawford addressed the Responsive Cities Initiative, a series of 3 workshops gathering leading thinkers with the aim of answering the following question: “What could a university center do to help cities use technology to make lives better for their citizens?” Panel members discussed the findings of The Tow Responsive Cities Initiative and brainstormed on what these findings mean for our collective future.

Panelists included:

See the highlights of the night in tweets:

Watch the full panel discussion here:

Teach a Kid to Code

As part of our YouthSpark Initiative, education is a priority. That means incorporating the latest innovations in education technology, inspiring others to use technology to teach, and, most importantly, teaching others about the importance of computer science. That’s why, through YouthSpark and TEALS, we’re calling for volunteer educators to use their exceptional computer science skills to teach kids how to code.

Fred Wilson, a local VC and blogger, has highlighted the importance of teaching kids to code in his latest blog, including two upcoming TEALS information sessions that you can attend in NYC. You can read more about it here.

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

Microsoft and City Year: A Shared Belief in the Power of Young People

Microsoft and City Year: A Shared Belief in the Power of Young People

To provide under-served youth with learning opportunities, Microsoft launched its YouthSpark Initiative in 2012.  To date, YouthSpark has helped over 227 million young people in over 100 countries.  As part of this partnership, we work with over 350 nonprofits on over 30 programs including CityYear, with whom we’ve worked for over 15 years.

CityYear and Microsoft are two organizations looking to achieve results through the use of data. For instance, CityYear recently analyzed national Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) data and discovered that students working with the organization in grades 3-9 improved their literacy and math skills by 1.4 times what was expected. We continue to work with City Year on finding innovative ways to improve its math curriculum. As a result, an expected 14,000 students will benefit from the new math curriculum this year.

For more information, read about our partnership with CityYear on the Microsoft New England Blog here.

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

Join us on May 13 for Microsoft’s YouthSpark in Schools program on closing the opportunity divide in education

One of the most important things technology leaders can do is extend the skills and opportunities of the digital economy to everyone in society — especially educators and students. On May 13, from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., we’re hosting a special afternoon YouthSpark in Schools event that will explore ways to close the opportunity divide in education and enable technology access for all. Educators, school and district administrators, and youth development professionals are invited to join us for an evening of dynamic learning.

Youthspark-In-Schools-NYA highlight of the day will be a keynote speech by acclaimed education innovator Dr. Lodge McCammon. McCammon is an independent education consultant and professional musician who develops innovative classroom strategies (e.g., paperslide videos) and shares them with students, teachers and schools across the world. By sharing tools to increase transparency, efficiency, reflective practice, and relationships, he helps teachers create healthy learning environments that are highly collaborative, differentiated, and engaging. His educational songs on algebra, chemistry, history and other subjects, plus supporting material, can be found on Discovery Education Streaming.

We’ll also have breakout sessions that offer deep dives into some of the more than 30 free programs under the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, including Skype in the Classroom, a global network connecting classrooms worldwide. We will offer hands-on training on how to integrate the latest technologies into classes and after-school programs, and how to leverage technology to increase parent engagement.

The program will conclude with a dynamic panel discussion among education and youth development thought leaders, focusing on Technology for All — Creating STEM Access Pathways for Girls and Young People of Color.

Register now to secure your seat for the program.

Microsoft YouthSpark is a company-wide, global initiative to create opportunities for 300 million youth through more than 30 programs and partnerships with more than 350 youth-serving nonprofits. Within its first two years, YouthSpark has created new opportunities for more than 227 million young people in over 100 countries around the world. Although there is much still to do, we’re inspired by what we’ve seen: young people taking the lead in changing not only their lives but the lives of other around them, making a real impact in their local communities and on the global stage. You can learn more by visiting www.youthsparkhub.com.

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

Space Apps NYC: Building the Future in Times Square

This weekend, we were beyond thrilled to join NASA in their Space Apps Challenge, a day filled with NASA-inspired workshops and hackathons. Surrounded by a group of driven coders, hackers, and other tech-savvy individuals, we found tons of motivation to continue building and hacking to improve our community. We were thrilled to watch as plenty of incredibly innovative minds came together to work on the sole purpose of building the future.

Congrats to all who won special awards and thank you for joining us for an inspiring weekend! See the best tweets of the event below:

Schools Seek Volunteers to Help Teach Computer Science


Are you an engineer, software developer or programmer and interested in providing opportunities for young people to learn computer science? Local schools need your expertise to help them jump start and build sustainable computer science programs by volunteering as part of TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools), a volunteer movement supported by Microsoft to bring computer science education to every high school in the U.S.

More than 475 TEALS volunteers across the nation are currently team-teaching Computer Science 101 and AP Computer Science in more than 130 schools. TEALS is expanding for the coming school year, and we need your help to meet the growing interest in computer science education among high school students across the U.S., including here in the New York City area.

“Many things we interact with on a daily basis are powered by computer science, but the vast majority of high schools students don’t have access to this exciting field of study because only ten percent of U.S. high schools teach it today,” said Kevin Wang, founder of TEALS. “As engineers and programmers across the tech industry we have an opportunity to help more kids learn computer science – school by school – by volunteering with TEALS and making a real difference in each student’s life, now and in the future.”

TEALS volunteers work with partner classroom teachers and interact directly with students. In addition to their role as instructors, volunteers can share their personal career stories with students, inspire them, and teach them about the broad range of opportunities in the computer science field. To find out more about how to volunteer with TEALS, go to http://www.tealsk12.org/volunteers/informational/. Applications will be accepted at http://www.tealsk12.org/apply/ until May 1, 2015.

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

NASA Space Apps Challenge: Get to work, humans

In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula. Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA – Processing & Licence: Judy Schmidt

Last fall, while I was out visiting Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, I took my Friday night and went to see Interstellar by myself (I’m hip like that). I came away both newly inspired in humanity’s potential to strike beyond the planet we were born upon, and reinvigorated to advance our technology and our behavior to keep this planet inhabitable.

If civic tech is the application of newly emergent opportunities to address shared challenges, then this weekend’s Space Apps Challenge fits the bill. NASA, NOAA, their international peers, and an increasingly exciting constellation of private tech startups working in outer space confront challenges that affect us not as individuals, or even as nations, but as an entire species. There’s anthropogenic climate change, solar flares, and a solar system full of asteroids to avoid. Not to mention those pesky questions of “How’d we get here?” and “Are we alone?” This weekend in NYC, we’ll look outward, towards improving our understanding of the universe and our long-term chances of survival. We’ll also look back upon ourselves to help us navigate the challenges of the present.

The festival and hackathon challenge will take place in Microsoft’s beautiful Times Square offices, thanks to our colleagues there and partners like the New York Tech Council and StartupBus NYC. The Space Apps Challenge is also, appropriately, a global event, involving teams of technologists, scientists, designers, artists, educators, entrepreneurs, developers, students, and anyone else interested in space exploration in over 130 countries across the world. Thanks to Skype, we’ll stream the NYC flagship event here, so you can join us wherever you are on this pale, blue dot. You can also register for local events all over the planet.

The Space Apps NYC team has recruited an incredible speaker lineup that includes several NASA representatives and astronauts. Among them is our guest, Victor Luo, of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who most recently helped launch one of the first holographic augmented reality apps, OnSight, for Microsoft’s HoloLens. The app allows scientists and HoloLens wearers to work virtually on Mars from wherever they stand, and is, in my humble opinion, incredibly cool:

We’re fortunate to have more brains taking atmospheric and intergalactic challenges from a wider variety of backgrounds than we did in previous decades. This Friday, before the weekend kicks off, our friends at Civic Hall will host a pre-event Space Apps Data Boot Camp:

[A]n opportunity for individuals interested in participating in hackathons to get their feet wet using skills and resources that will help them to engage productively as project team members at a hackathon, as well as to gain a better understanding of how the existing skills and perspectives they bring to the table can be an asset to their project teams.  In keeping with NASA’s focus on Women in Data for the 2015 Space Apps Challenge, the Space Apps Data Bootcamp will be led by many exceptional women making an impact on the world through their engagement with data. [Register here]

It’s not always obvious, but much of NASA’s mission, and the work of the space sector, broadly, concerns satellite technology trained back on us (like an array of extremely powerful mirrors). That includes atmospheric monitoring, surveillance, locational positioning systems like GPS, and real-time imagery useful for planning and also disaster response. At our disposal are the most cameras, accessible ranges of visible and invisible light, and sheer data that humanity’s ever had available. That’s a lot of material to work with this weekend. To infinity, and beyond!

Microsoft New York’s Top Picks for Civic Tech Events in April

Spring has sprung! We’re welcoming in the warm weather with open arms and plenty of civic tech action in the city. Here are some of our picks for the top events in civic tech this April:


April 7April 2015 NY Tech Meetup and Afterparty

April 8: How Do We Avoid the Next Healthcare.gov?

April 9: Beta Talk: Carl Malamud on Edicts of Government and Yo! Your Honor!

April 10: International Space Apps Challenge at Microsoft NYC’s 11 Times Square office

April 13: Your City. On Demand. with Uber NYC

April 13: Civic Tech Ignite NYC with Omidyar Network

April 21: Paying Attention: Big Listening to Earth

April 28The Tow Responsive City Initiative: A Panel Discussion with Susan Crawford

April 29: Civic Hacknight in Queens with Coalition 4 Queens