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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

Black History! This week’s focus is “Computer Science 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 key Computer Science figures in Black History. Even today Computer Science is a professional field with a large racial, gender and socio-economic gap. Previously we’ve mentioned how important it is to find mentors that look like our students in order to help build an interest in a potential future career, and in that spirit we want to continue to explore African-American figures in computer science.

Evelyn Boyd Granville - Evelyn Boyd Granville was the second African-American to earn a PhD in Mathematics from an American university. Her work included teaching in higher education at various colleges and universities, as well as working with NASA on the Apollo Program including early digital computing techniques. Learn more about Granville here.

Roy L. Clay, Sr - Roy L. Clay Sr. was a founding member of Hewlitt Packard’s computer division and led the team that created HP’s first computer, the HP2116A. In 2003 he was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Council’s Hall of Fame for his many professional accomplishments. Learn more about his professional and personal accomplishments here.

John Henry Thompson - Inventor, Artist, and Programmer John Henry Thompson enjoyed finding and creating connections between computers and art. He created the Lingo scripting language that renders visuals in computer software. His work helped lay the foundation for CD-ROM’s and advances in early video game visuals. You can learn more about him on his website, or one of the many articles written about him.

And one correction from last week...

Last week, we highlighted the “Hidden Figures” and included the above image, which mistakenly mislabeled the middle photo as Dorothy Vaughan. The middle photo is actually Melba Roy Mouton who headed a group of NASA mathematicians called "computers"..

The correct image should have looked like this:

In our research, we found many websites have also mistakenly labeled photos of Melba Roy Mouton as Dorothy Vaughan, which illustrates the importance of learning and sharing about African-American heroes in STEM in order to provide recognition and combat misinformation. Thank you to those of you who helped point out our mistake.

The good news is this mistake also gave us another African American computer scientist to spotlight! Melba Roy Mouton helped calculate the orbit of Echo 1 at NASA, as well as held seminars for A Programming Language (APL) at Watson Research Labs. Mouton work was awarded both the Apollo Achievement Award as well as the Exceptional Performance Award from NASA.

To honor these individuals, you could try to make a biography project! Can you take one of the Scratch Tutorials and modify it to be a biography that includes information about an African American figure in CS? Or you could use this ‘Code a Biography in Python’ project as a starting point. What can you create? Be sure to share your projects!

Share Your CS to Go Projects!

How to Share: We invite CS to Go with Code Savvy participants to consider sharing your projects publicly with the Code Savvy and greater #MNCodes community via video with Flipgrid. We can’t wait to see what you create! Please be sure to follow online safety guidelines and get adult permission before sharing. You can find our Privacy Policy here.

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