Computer Science Week, the first full week of December, is an exciting time of the year. Why? Because I get to expose more and more young people to computer coding and computer science concepts through the Hour of Code. And every year, I’m re-energized by seeing their eyes light up after they animate their name or complete a lesson in code.org.
For #HourOfCode2017 we introduced nearly 300 young people in the Atlanta neighborhoods of Chosewood Park and Peoplestown. Volunteers worked with students at Frederick Wilson Benteen Elementary School (Benteen ES) and Barack & Michelle Obama Academy (BaMOA) in completing their coding projects. Students in 3rd and 4th grades had to construct lines of code using blocks using the ‘Play Ball’ lesson from code.org. 5th Graders set up their own Scratch accounts and animated their names. After the last session on Friday, I wished we had more than just an hour a year to explore this new skill with these bright and inquisitive minds.
The #HourOfCode is an important part of what we do to give back and expand the reach of coding to young people in some of our most challenged communities. Coding is a skill that if nurtured could last these young people well into adulthood and open doors to new opportunities.
This Hour Of Code I had some great hands and minds helping me. Mrs. Annette Richardson, my mother and a retired Dekalb County Schools administrator; Mr. Kenneth Mason, State of Georgia Board of Education District 5 Representative; Ms. Lisa Fey, Speaker and retired Coca-Cola sales and marketing executive; Ms. Andaiye Reeves, Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library; and Mr. Rick Laupus, Peoplestown Community Advocate were an integral part of the learning and fun. The school staff, especially Ms. Lorraine Foushee at BaMOA and Ms. Aiesha Khan and Benteen ES, really rocked it to a new level. I’m so proud we’ve been at BaMOA since 2014 and Benteen since 2016. I can’t thank our volunteers and the staff at the schools enough for making this one better than the year before.
The primary lesson I learned is that more can be done but no singular organization (or individual for that matter) can do it alone. #HourofCode is a step on a long and interesting journey. So who’s up for bringing coding to your school, after school program, a summer program, a library, church, or any location near you? Contact me to start the conversation and begin building alliances to teach 10,000 young people how to code.
We can make this happen for Metro Atlanta’s young people.
William Teasley, Nerd Ninja Sensei
A blog for those working to refine the college access pipeline, create more opportunities to nurture future change agents, and mitigate the gaps.