Growing by Giving Back: Lessons Learned “Skyping In” to Teach Technology to Young People

Each year, Computer Science Education Week arrives the first week of December (this year it was the 5th-11th).  This annual program is dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science and technology.

Every year during this amazing week, a worldwide project named the “Hour-of-Code” gives students in schools and other youth-based organizations an opportunity to learn and share elements of computer technology (and an understanding of the importance of technology in our lives) with millions of young people around the world.

As a technology professional with Aptos and a volunteer with Code.org, I make myself available during Computer Science Education Week to any teachers requesting a Computer Science presentation for their students.

This year, teachers in two Orange County, New York State schools (one sixth grade class at RJK Middle School in Monticello, and one fifth grade class at Maple Hill Elementary in Middletown) requested my assistance. They asked if I would I “Skype in” to their classrooms to help them learn coding (programming) basics. I immediately knew that I liked them – they had made a verb of “Skype” just like we always seem to do in the world of high tech!

Skyping In…

So, last week, I connected via Skype so that I could engage with the kids.  In addition to coding lessons, I related to the students the importance of computer technology and how we interact with it every day.  I took each class on a brief walking tour of our Newburgh, New York lab, and explained how Aptos provides retailers (many they likely have visited) with computer-based tools that help them run their businesses.  They loved that connection to their daily lives!

This activity is rewarding beyond words.  I always leave these sessions thinking I learned as much as I taught.  And I believe these young people left their sessions inspired to go beyond the Hour-of-Code, and to continue working on more advanced challenges. Maybe they will ask for challenges from their teachers, or possibly they will even seek those offered through Code.org.

A Video Thank You Note

A couple days ago, Donna Meehan, a teacher for one of the classes I worked with at RJK Middle School sent me a link to a YouTube video her class made for me as a thank you for Skyping In:

That video blew me away. I already can’t wait ‘til this week next year…

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