Code Savvy Connections
Our newsletters highlight a variety of people, organizations, and resources that are doing work to broaden participation and expand equitable and engaging computer science and STEM opportunities. We are honored to work in this space along with so many talented and passionate individuals and want to help bring attention to their work.
This Week’s Spotlight and Project-Inspiration Theme: Black History Month
Spotlight on Black History! This week’s focus is “STEM in Black History”
For the next several weeks, we will shine our spotlight specifically on Black History. We recognize that history is a topic that is largely whitewashed and only told from the perspective of people in power to further certain ideas. Black History Month is an important reminder that there are large parts of history that generally go untold in schools and society, and that should be shared all year long. For the next several weeks, Code Savvy will be focusing on a different aspect of Black History and making connections through stories, experiences, and achievements to computer science.
This week, we explore the area of STEM in Black History. The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) have gained an increasing focus particularly in the education system recently. STEM continues to grow, change, and advance thanks in large part to key persons of color.
The recent Hollywood hit “Hidden Figures” brought a lot of attention to three particular women in STEM fields; Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. Katherine Johnson was so strong in mathematics that astronauts counted on her to confirm by hand the calculations that early computers were making to ensure they were correct. Dorothy Vaughan earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics at the age of 19, and was a pioneer in the early computing industry at a time when computers took up entire rooms and had to be programmed through punch cards! Mary Jackson overcame many obstacles to become an engineer at a time when the field was dominated by men, and she even went on to become the very first Black female engineer at NASA. The fact that these three were employed by NASA was groundbreaking at the time. They all played crucial parts in landing an astronaut on the moon, yet their roles have largely gone untold in the educational historical curriculum.
There has been research into the importance of role models particularly for women in computing and STEM fields. When students can see role models who look like them within areas of STEM and computer science, they are more likely to see those fields as realistic opportunities for themselves. That is why it is critical to continue to seek out and provide intentional role models to students to ensure they are repeatedly exposed to a variety of future career opportunities. There are a number of websites that have sought to fill this role. Code.org videos have intentionally included diverse representation, and organizations like Fab Fems aim to connect female role models within STEM to classrooms and other learning opportunities. Code Savvy continues to strive toward making connections between industry and education, to help youth connect with a variety of role models and future career pathways. Code Savvy’s Technovation[MN] program is a prime example of matching mentors with girls interested in STEM and entrepreneurship to support them in developing apps to solve community problems. Our CoderDojo programs also match mentors to kids to explore coding side by side.
This week as you are practicing your own coding, try to find or create projects that highlight STEM skills. You could check out the STEM simulations from PhET at University of Colorado Boulder - can you try to make one of your own? Or maybe you want to use Scratch to explore math concepts with projects from CS and Math. If you choose to make a STEM highlight project, be sure to share it!
Share Your CS to Go Projects!