A Code of their Own

Last week, my daughter participated in the Tulsa STEM Alliance’s “Code of their Own” camp, at the Tulsa City-County Library downtown.

Sidebar: if you’ve not ventured down to the new remodeled library yet, you owe it to yourself to visit.  I used to spend a lot of time there doing research on the 3rd floor, and it’s amazing how it’s been updated.  They even have a Starbucks inside.

Tulsa STEM Alliance used the camp twofold — training for TPS teachers in how to teach coding, and a camp for the kiddos.  A cadre of teachers now exists who have all gone through the same curriculum to take back to their own schools.

As an IT person, it warms the cockles of my heart to see kids (particularly my own) taking their first steps toward learning how to code.  Being able to think in algorithms and build approaches to solve problems is key to being able to work in the world today.

Their project for the week was a Time Off Scheduling App for the Tulsa Discovery Museum, with 5 teams working independently on their version.

Each day when P came home we talked about that day’s lesson: storing variables, conditional logic, IF/THEN statements, and for their final day they presented mock-ups of their app.  Calendar screens, time off request forms, logic to check other team member calendars to assure coverage.

At the end of their presentations, one of the teachers came up to us and said: “This one has a mind for data analysis.”

I always figured law since she loves to argue me into a corner.  But she has expressed interest in medicine, and much of that is data-driven these days.

When she was little, P exhibited her spatial perception skills by changing forever the way we load the silverware into the dishwasher:  “No Daddy — these forks go here, the spoons here, and the knives in there.” And it actually made more sense.

In talking with other parents, it’s gratifying to see other kids also getting a charge investigating STEM-driven careers.  One of my co-worker’s daughters is 14 and is already attending statewide STEM camps and preparing for a career in chemical engineering.  I don’t know the overall statistics, but I believe that with Tulsa’s history in the oil industry we have a fair number of STEM role models in our community.  It’s great to see that it’s being passed on to the next generation.

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