STEM

Looking Back at Computer Science Education Week 2016

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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 like CoderDojo‘s special computer science lessons for children, and by participating in Hour of Code events throughout the New York Metro area.

Meanwhile, our community engaged on the same level, hosting Hour of Code events at New York 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:

Find out more about #hourofcode here: hourofcode.com/us.

Coding Outside the Classroom: CoderDojo NYC Teaches Children Computer Science Fundamentals

CoderDojo NYC students work at the Microsoft Store on 5th Ave. Photo from CoderDojo NYC.

Computer Science Education Week is a nationwide initiative suggesting that every student try coding for one hour. Learning the basics of computer science prepares students for a world that is increasingly dominated by technology90 percent of parents want their children to study computer science, and computing jobs are the number one source for new income. Despite 517,393 open computing jobs nationwide, only 42,989 computer science students graduated into the workforce last year. As technology continues to permeate our lives, the demand for employees in the tech sector grows with it, with one million more computer science jobs than people qualified to fill them by 2020.

American schools, however, don’t seem to be ahead of the trend. While the CS For All initiative has led some districts to see the importance in computer science classes, 40 percent of schools still don’t teach computer programming, and only six states have created computer science standards for grades K-12. The reason? Officials don’t think kids have interest in learning computer science. Although New York announced plans to offer all students programming classes by 2025, fewer than 10 percent of city schools currently offer any form of computer science education, and only 1 percent of students are currently in CS classes.

But students do have interest.

Living proof is CoderDojo, a global network of programming clubs for young people. More than 1,400 New York families have annually attended CoderDojo NYC since the chapter opened. At CoderDojo NYC, the mission is to create a fun, creative and collaborative out-of-school environment to explore STEM, where students can build memorable experiences with mentors to ignite passion for technology at an early age.

Coding bootcamps and specialized workshops can get expensive. But CoderDojo NYC, like all the Dojos, is completely free, volunteer-led and open to anyone age 7 to 17. The monthly workshops in the greater New York City area serve as an informal, creative and social environment for young people to learn to code and explore web, game and app development.

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Photo from CoderDojo NYC

The NYC chapter of the nonprofit was co-founded by Carl Sednaoui and Rebecca Garcia in 2012. Garcia took to technology at a young age, teaching herself to code when she was 14. She’s now a Program Manager for Tech Jobs Academy as well as the CoderDojo NYC co-founder.

Garcia explained that there are more than 1,000 chapters of CoderDojo in 60 countries.

‘The idea is that anyone can start a CoderDojo chapter and provide open and accessible education for youth around the globe,” Garcia told us. “Any Saturday, type ‘#CoderDojo’ on Twitter, and you can see chapters from all over the globe coding and tinkering.”

At CoderDojo NYC, children create and build at the half-day hackathon-style workshops through project-based learning, Garcia explained. Projects are sometimes civic-themed or themed for the season. CoderDojo NYC will host a special all-ages event for Hour of Code on Dec. 10 where the theme will be climate change.

What makes the CoderDojo experience so successful is that students receive one-on-one guidance from a mentor, Garcia said.

“The special thing is that there’s only one volunteer for every student,” she said. “It’s very different from a standard classroom environment with one teacher and 30 students.”

Photo from CoderDojo NYC

These CoderDojo NYC volunteers range from more seasoned technology professionals to educators, designers and even students themselves learning to code.

“These people give back to the community through providing guidance and mentorship. They find it very rewarding,” Garcia said.

Children learn using MIT’s Scratch and Arduino’s littleBits programming tools. While students are definitely learning computer science fundamentals through visual programming, Garcia stressed the importance in sparking love of learning at an earlier age.  

“It’s more about exploring creativity through technology,” she said.

Many students move on and learn more coding skills at longer-term programs that CoderDojo NYC has partnerships with, such as Girls Who Code and Nano Hackers Academy. One CoderDojo NYC student, Kiera Cawley, started coding when she was nine and went on to be the youngest person to receive a WWDC scholarship at 12 years old.

CoderDojo NYC maintains partnerships with schools in underrepresented areas and has a naturally occurring 50-50 gender ratio and ethnic diversity. The median age of attendees is 12 to 13.

One seventh grader from Queens, Rebecca Feldman, told the New York Times that she started going to CoderDojo NYC after she became discouraged at her robotics after-school program.

“I was one of two girls in the class,” she told the Times. “We kind of had to fend for ourselves.”

Garcia became a mentor for the student, who became known as Little Rebecca. Garcia recalled that Little Rebecca had never heard of computer science before, but after her first CoderDojo NYC session, she told her parents, “I really like this. Is this something you can do for a living?”

Learn more about CoderDojo on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week.

Drive Digital Literacy This Computer Science Education Week With The Hour of Code

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Every December, something special happens for students around the world. Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), held annually in December in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Grace Hopper (December 9, 1906), is a grassroots campaign dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science. The campaign, originally conceived by the Computing in the Core coalition, is now spearheaded by Code.org alongside 350 partners and 100,000 educators worldwide.

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Stats via Code.org.

This year, CSEdWeek runs from December 5, 2016 through December 11, 2016, and we’re ready to once again be on board. With over 500,000 open computing jobs nationwide — despite the fact that only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce in 2016 — we’re ready to engage the next generation of coders and drive innovation throughout the world. Organizations like CSNYC are helping to make this happen, by providing programming in key areas to bring access to high-quality computer science education to all of New York City’s 1.1. million public school students. The Computer Science for All Initiative (CS4All), initiative to scale computer science education (CS) to 100% of the City’s public schools plans to bring computer science to all NYC students by 2025.

But that’s just the first step. Computer science is a foundational skill and it’s up to us to ensure that every 21st century child gets the chance to learn how technology works.

So how do we get this done?

The centerpiece of CSEdWeek lies within a program devised by Code.org named the Hour of Code. An Hour of Code is a basic coding tutorial that new coders of all ages — and over 45 languages — can use to begin their journey in computer science. In over 180 countries, 305,078,080 students have performed an Hour of Code since its inception. It’s time to add to this total.

This CSEdWeek, we’re inviting you to take the coding challenge: give a child the gift of computer science and join them in an Hour of Code.

Local Hour of Code programming this CSEdWeek at the Microsoft Store:

YouthSpark: Hour of Code

Join us for this free, 90-minute workshop to take part in the global Hour of Code movement during Computer Science Education Week. Go behind the scenes to learn how to code, program, and play in your own gaming world. You’ll use fun, interactive coding to learn how creativity and problem solving come together to make something all your own. Workshop designed for ages 8 and older.

Monday, December 5, 2016 | 4:00 PM

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 | 4:00 PM

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 | 4:00 PM

Thursday, December 8, 2016 | 4:00 PM

Friday, December 9, 2016 | 4:00 PM

MInecraft Build Challenge

This free Minecraft workshop at your local Microsoft Store offers a fun, hands-on experience for players of every age. Join a team to create something epic before the clock runs out. Prior Minecraft experience is recommended but not required.

Saturday, December 10, 2016 | 11:00 AM

Minecraft Hour of Code

Join us for this free, 90-minute camp to explore a Minecraft world through code and to take part in the global Hour of Code movement. Use blocks of code to take Steve or Alex on an adventure through a Minecraft world. You’ll use kid-friendly programming to learn how creativity and problem solving come together to make something all your own. Curriculum designed for ages 8 and older.  It is recommended that your student bring their own set of headphones for an optimal experience.

Sunday, December 11, 2016 |  2:00 PM

City Year New York Makes a Difference at JHS218 James P Sinnott Middle School

City Year New York and JHS218 James P Sinnott Middle School

It was a bright sunny day as we approached JHS218 in Brooklyn, NY. Laura Clayton McDonnell, GM of Microsoft New York, Antuan Santana and I were scheduled to visit our City Year New York Corp Member team at our “adopted”school, JHS218.  We were cheerfully greeted by the City Year New York leads for the school and started our school tour with City Year’s First Circle.

Our first stop, a visit outside to see the beautiful playground that use to be a parking lot. As we moved back inside, we had an opportunity to briefly meet the school principal, Lisa Ann Hermann. We were touched by a poster that was on the wall just outside of the principal’s office — it read:

A

DREAM

written down with a date becomes a

GOAL

A goal broken down into steps becomes a

PLAN

A plan backed by

ACTION

makes your dreams

REALITY

                                         ~Author Unknown

While we continued our tour, we met a teacher who was a student years ago at the school. During the introduction it was shared that she was from Panama, which is where Laura’s parents are originally from. Such a small world!

As we made our way to the classroom on the second floor, which the Corp Member team uses as their office space, we sat down as a group, did a round of introductions, and then moved onto table topics. Table topics is a fun way to get to know about people in a short period of time that you are just meeting.

We approached the close of our visit with some Q&A and wrapped with a group photo. It was a great opportunity for Laura to see Microsoft’s sponsorship in action; it makes it real, seeing the positive impact that City Year has on youth.  Thank you City Year for making a difference.

To Code And Beyond — Computer Science at Play at Cornell Tech

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Photo via Microsoft YouthSpark

It was an honor to join Cornell Tech as they hosted the second annual To Code and Beyond: Computer Science at Play Conference. This conference brings together organizations and contributors to K-12 Computer Science (CS) education who deliver impact not only in the Greater NYC area but across the US and globally.

With over 1.1 million youth in NYC public schools, there are less than 5% receiving computer science (CS) education. New York City Deputy Mayor Richard Buery asked, “How do we spark a love of computers and technology among our young people? The economy demands out young people grow these skills [to] thrive in the economy. How do you create excitement?”

Debbie Marcus from the NYC Department of Education also raised the question, “How do we provide computer science education to every student regardless of age, gender race, and to see computer science as a literacy?” The idea is not only to create a pathway for youth to explore CS careers, but to see it as a valuable skill that opens opportunity in other fields as well.

Earlier this year, CSNYC announced the CS for All Initiative, a 10-year, $80 million plan to bring computer science education to every student in the New York City public schools. After two years of operation, CSNYC now reaches 7% of the City’s schools and 10,000 students who fully represent the economic, ethnic, and gender diversity of the City.

To Code And Beyond was a culmination of not only sharing years of technology education work, but sharing resources and an open forum for ideas and collaboration. The conference consisted of keynotes, panel discussions that highlighted innovative ways to engage youth not only through CS curriculum, but out of the classroom; per Diane Levitt of Cornell Tech, ‘the vibrancy of informal education’.

The conference highlighted initiatives such as CS4All and organizations across the Greater NYC Area including CSNYC and its CS4All Consortium, NY Hall of Science, Lower East Side Girls Club, and FIRST Robotics NYC supported by national tech companies.

Currently in 23 high schools across the Greater NYC Area and around the US, Microsoft TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) helps high schools build sustainable computer science programs by pairing trained computer science professionals.

What can NYC local organizations and schools do to access CS education and reach more youth?

Local NYC organizations and schools can join the CS for All movement and attend CS NYC pedagogy meetups, joining the NYC STEM education network, STEM Funders Network, CS for All Consortium, or Hive NYC.

Next month, we’re excited to celebrate Computer Science Education Week (CS Ed Week). From Dec 5th-11th across the globe, anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 45 languages. No experience needed for this training geared toward new coders ages 4 to 104.

Start now: Find a local YouthSpark or Minecraft Event near you.

Rebecca Garcia is a Program Manager for Tech Jobs Academy. Previously she was awarded as a U.S. White House Champion of Change for ‘Tech Inclusion’, named one of Glamour Magazine’s Top 35 Women Under 35 Changing the Tech Industry’ and Hispanicize’s STEM Star for her non-profit work as Co-founder of CoderDojo NYC.

Meet High School Intern: Sagar Punjabi

This summer, we’ve been thrilled to host high school students as part of our NYC Microsoft High School Summer Internship Program (HSIP). The HSIP is a 6 week internship for junior and senior high school students providing an opportunity to explore the technology industry while expanding engineering skills. Microsoft is committed to developing junior talent and championing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related fields. HSIP sets out to inspire students to pursue collegiate degrees in computer science or STEM through exposure to those career paths. In addition, HSIP strives to attract a diverse pool of students with a technical background and a passion for technology.

Sagar PUnjabi (1)Where do you go to school? When are you graduating?

I am going to be a senior at Forest Hills High School this fall. I will be graduating in 2017.

Where are you applying to college? What do you plan on studying? 

I’m still currently looking into schools, but so far I’m interested in Cornell and Brandeis. I want to major in Computer Science.

What brought you to Microsoft’s internship program? 

I first learned about it through The Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship. Microsoft’s vision of empowering every person and organization to do more is something that stuck with me, and I knew a summer here would be a summer I would not forget.

What’s your favorite piece of Microsoft technology?

The Xbox One. It has so many capabilities and functions, what can’t you do with it?

What work are you most excited about this summer? 

I loved to work with all of the different types of technologies Microsoft has available.

What’s one thing you learned with Microsoft? 

I’ve learned how useful the cloud can be and how to utilize it. This is something that has made my life a lot easier.

How are you utilizing entrepreneurship skills at Microsoft this summer?  

Every entrepreneur must be able to solve the challenges that come his or her way no matter how big they might be. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve been given work I’m not familiar with, but that hasn’t stopped me from completing it.

Meet High School Intern: Sejal Mehra

This summer, we’ve been thrilled to host high school students as part of our NYC Microsoft High School Summer Internship Program (HSIP). The HSIP is a 6 week internship for junior and senior high school students providing an opportunity to explore the technology industry while expanding engineering skills. Microsoft is committed to developing junior talent and championing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related fields. HSIP sets out to inspire students to pursue collegiate degrees in computer science or STEM through exposure to those career paths. In addition, HSIP strives to attract a diverse pool of students with a technical background and a passion for technology.

Sejal MehraWhere do you go to school and when are you graduating? I go to school at Division Avenue High School in Levittown, NY. I will be graduating this coming June 2017.

Where are you applying to college and what do you plan to study? I will be applying locally (New York City) and to MIT. I plan on studying computer engineering.

What brought you to Microsoft’s internship program? The excitement of getting to know the real technology world brought me to Microsoft’s internship program.

What’s your favorite piece of Microsoft technology? My favorite piece of Microsoft technology is the Surface Pro and Microsoft Band.

What work are you most excited about from this summer’s program? I am most excited that we were able to work on IoT (Internet of Things) this summer.

What’s one thing you have learned with Microsoft? One thing I learned with Microsoft is how much more there is to Office 365 than Word and PowerPoint.

How has Girls Who Code empowered you to use technology? Why is coding important? Girls Who Code empowered me to express my passion for technology. Coding is important because it’s something that is all around us and everything can be programmed, from the smallest toy to the biggest building.

Microsoft Girls Who Code Class of 2016 — Make What’s Next

Girls Who Code NYC 2016

Wow, I cannot believe that seven weeks have passed already. It seems as though the Girls Who Code cohort just arrived at the 11 Times Square office, and on the evening of August 18, I had the pleasure to watch each of them graduate. As part of the ceremony, the girls had the opportunity to showcase their final projects to their parents and invited guests. It was an amazing evening. The best part was the surprise! Microsoft New York General Manager Laura Clayton McDonnell was the Microsoft keynote speaker and she had the honor to announce to the 20 students and their three teachers that they each get to keep the Surface devices that they have been using over the course of the program. The news was received with such excitement! I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room, it was magical moment.

During the coders’ time at Microsoft they learned programming in Scratch, an introduction to Python, Object-Oriented Programming, Web Programming and Robotics.  They used these learnings to work on their final projects that included:

  • one website (called Poll Me) that provides useful information to new and young voters, such as voting locations and ways to register to vote
  • one website / mobile application (called Organize Yourself) that allows students to organize their assignments and classes by adding tasks to specific categories they create
  • one website (called Volunteens) that allows teenagers to search for volunteer opportunities, and it allows organizations to post volunteer opportunities that would be open to teens
  • one website (called Study Drop) that provides a space for students to answer questions related to their school curriculum (ex. 3rd grade math questions), and for every 10 questions answered correctly some amount of water would be donated to communities in need
  • one game that raises awareness about the street harassment that many women face every day in cities such as New York
  • one game that gives new or expecting mothers’ tips on best practices for raising an infant

Some of the other projects that are highlights in the curriculum and that all the girls completed include:

  • An animation of a city scene using Python
  • Choreographing a robot dance by programming in Arduino
  • Creating a portfolio website that shows off the work that each student did during their time at Girls Who Code

An impressive list of accomplishments for these young coders!  

In addition to their coding activities this summer, the girls attended several field trips, including one right here in the office — a visit to the Microsoft Technology Center. They also spent the summer hearing from a variety of speakers and participating in several in-class workshops.

As we close the chapter on this year’s class, I wish all of our coders the absolute best on their bright futures that they all have ahead of them.

Congratulations to the Microsoft Girls Who Code Class of 2016!  Keep Coding!

Empowering Girls Who Code With Super Powers

Laura Clayton McDonnell, Girls Who CodeWhile I sat in the Girls Who Code classroom and watched Laura Clayton McDonnell, General Manager Microsoft New York Metro, deliver her speaking engagement/presentation, I was in awe of her ease and natural approach. She started her presentation with some personal information and beautiful pictures of her family.  Laura’s family is from Panama, however Laura was born in Bermuda and was raised in California.  She has a very diverse education background along with a fascinating work history; started her career as an attorney and then moved into sales.  Laura’s personal philosophy is “To live life in an exemplary manner that reflects what matters, with curiosity, optimism, courage, humility, compassion and integrity.”  

In my opinion, Laura had a brilliant way to approach her presentation, entitled “Empowering You with Super Powers”; she answered the same essay questions that all Girls Who Code candidates had to answer.  She shared her views on improving existing technology and why, overcoming challenges, contributing to the success of others and exploring computer science.  This was very well-received.

After sharing her views on the essay questions, Laura then moved onto sharing her top 5 life changing ideas and segued into Laura’s challenge to the coders, Diversity = Success.  

I watched the girls diligently write in their notebooks during the course of the presentation and asked very intriguing questions.

Laura concluded her presentation by asking the coders what are they going to do with their super power which led into the Q&A session.  I found Laura to be very inspirational. The coders asked for her email address and shortly after her departure from the class, the following email was received:

“I wanted to thank you for coming in today and giving an insight into your life beginning from Panama to Microsoft. It gave an idea of how to approach my career through various techniques revolving both personal growth and teamwork. In addition, your job as a business woman working in the field of computer science is a new career that I have begun to consider. It was truly a great experience to meet you.

Hopefully, in the future we may see more of each other.

Once again, a huge thanks.”  

Thank you to Laura for helping us inspire the next generation of coders!

Girls Who Code: Bridging the Skills Gap, One Girl at a Time

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The 2016 Girls Who Code Cohort at Microsoft New York

According to Code.org, there are currently more than 500,000 open computing jobs nationwide. Yet last year, only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce. Through our commitment to education, we’re working to bridge this skills gap, encouraging youth to pursue computer science and participating in initiatives that bring digital literacy to our schools. Despite our progress, female interest in computer science still drops off between the ages of 13-17. While 66% of girls express interest in computing programs, only 4% of college-aged young women express that same interest (and enrollment). Enter Girls Who Code.

Girls Who Code (GWC) is a national nonprofit organization that promotes bridging the skills gap and subsequent gender gap that is plaguing the tech sector. In 1984, 37% of all computer science graduates were women. Now, that number has dropped to a mere 18%. Girls Who Code programs battle that by engaging young girls in direct, hands-on computing education, from coding sessions to building hardware, creating their own apps, and meeting with female leaders in the tech industry.

Since its inception, Girls Who Code has gone from 20 girls in New York to 10,000 girls in 42 states. And we’re proud to partner with this organization, bringing girls into our Microsoft offices every summer to take part in the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. Our hope is that these girls will take what they learn and help make the world a better place through technology. After all, isn’t that what tech is for?

As GWC founder Reshma Saujani says, “When girls learn to code, they become change agents in their communities.” And we can’t wait to see that happen.

Stay posted on MicrosoftNewYork.com for more updates on Girls Who Code and the Summer Immersion Program.