Empowering Youth at New York City Computer Science Opportunity Fair

| MSNY Staff

The 2016 CS Fair held at the The Armory on Thursday March 7, 2016 in New York. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for WE/Microsoft

On April 7, Microsoft and CSNYC co-sponsored the New York City Computer Science Opportunity Fair – the city’s largest annual college and career exploration event for public high schools students.  We joined CSNYC to bring booths, schools and speakers to the fair that aims to educate and inspire students about career opportunities in the field of computer science. There were 2000 students from over 65 schools from all five boroughs.

The 2016 CS Fair held at the The Armory on Thursday March 7, 2016 in New York. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for WE/MicrosoftOver 100 companies, colleges and extra-curricular programs were represented.  Companies and organizations like AOL, Facebook, the New York city council, Two Sigma, New York City Economic Development Corporation, The Armory and the NYC Department of Education contributed, sponsored and helped organize the Fair. The 2016 CS Fair featured hands-on activities, exhibits and short presentations all aimed at demystifying computer science, computing careers and non-technical pathways in tech for young people.

One of the many highlights of the day was the participation of legendary audio engineer, educator and DJ, Gimel “Young Guru” Keaton, who has collaborated with performers such as Jay-Z, Beyonce and Alicia Keys. Guru spun twice for delighted students, as well as presented one of the event’s Tech Talks, entitled “How Technology Has Transformed Creativity,” while interacting with students from the Academy for Software Engineering, who use his audio engineering software, EarSketch, to learn coding.

The 2016 CS Fair held at the The Armory on Thursday March 7, 2016 in New York. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for WE/MicrosoftThe event also included several Maker Space booths where students were able to build electronics and put their new-found skills to work.  The Maker Space activities included:

  • Building paper circuitry into an origami project with copper tape, LEDs and coin cell batteries.
  • Building a small paper helicopter including a parallel circuit to light them up with a small LED.
  • A soldering activity where students got to assemble their own “solder badge” (a small printed circuit board with a blinking RGB LED) featuring the logo of the conference.
  • Programming a pattern (including their own names) onto the face of an LED cube.
  • Drawing a working circuit with a conductive ink pen.
  • Making a robot arc reactor

The 2016 CS Fair held at the The Armory on Thursday March 7, 2016 in New York. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for WE/Microsoft

Microsoft is a strong believer in computer science education for many reasons.  We want a robust pool of the next generation of innovators to contribute to our work force and our community.  For students, the world of computer science opens up a wealth of opportunities and we want all young minds to be familiar with all of the possibilities.  During the event, the speakers, booths, “maker space” sessions were all designed to help inspire these students about everything that the world of computer science has to offer.  This is a field that presents its entrants with the chance to be creative, collaborative and fulfilled in their future careers.

Microsoft is involved with the NYC CS Fair through its TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program.  TEALS helps high schools build sustainable computer science programs by pairing trained computer science professionals from across the tech industry with classroom teachers to co-teach a computer science class in high schools across the US.  After two years, the classroom teacher is prepared to teach the course without volunteer support and allows the volunteer to help another school.  We believe that by increasing access to computer science education for all youth, we can help them prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow.  This gives them the opportunity to become creators of technology and the world’s future innovators.  

We are always in need of new volunteers to help make this program a success.  If you are, or someone you know is a computer science practitioner who is looking for a way to give back to the community, the TEALS program offers the perfect opportunity.  Visit us at https://www.tealsk12.org/volunteers to find out more.  

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