At the Level Playing Field Institute, we believe that our students of color should be equipped with the exposure, skills and mentors to become the producers of technology rather than just the consumers. We also believe deeply in the role of parents, siblings and communities in validating, encouraging, and honoring the hard work of their student. This is why LPFI is so excited to partner with the YMCA, the nation’s community organization, for a second year to pilot a computer science program called Camp Code. Our first pilot was in Oakland and the second in the Excelsior neighborhood of San Francisco.
LPFI & YMCA created Camp Code to expose students of color under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to the field of computer science. We built a curriculum that engages students with challenges in their community and applies computer science to understand and address their lived experiences.
Camp Code students utilized the Scratch platform to story-board their projects which included preventing drunk driving, calling out the negative effects of bullying and discussing pollution and its effect on the environment. The students engaged speakers of color in the computer science field including one of the first Dropbox employees and a female entrepreneur with her own start-up. This was an important opportunity for the students to see individuals who reflected their backgrounds speak to them about their own childhoods and educational and career trajectories. The students also visited the Computer History Museum – really important for exposure since many of them had never even left their neighborhoods before this field trip!
We were so pleased with the excitement and motivation that the students came away with. Some of their comments:
Best and first time coding and learning!
I felt really excited and learned something new!
Best educational class ever!
LPFI and YMCA are pleased with the outcomes of the Camp Code program and we plan to explore expanding the program to additional sites incorporating technology in order to scale – stay tuned!