Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youths 18 years of age and younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. Meet 15 year old Jocelyn from Virginia. Jocelyn used her award to launch Got Tec Richmond (Gifts of Technology for Teachers, Education, and Children), a community service initiative. Its mission is to fund and deliver needed technology equipment to underserved and underfunded schools. Jocelyn created a technology library at her school that over 320 students and 18 teachers can access. She also scheduled a “Learn to Code” day for students.
- How many people participated in your service project? 25
- How many hours did you and other participants spend on the project? Over 10 hours between organizing, inviting, preparing, and hosting the classes.
- What did you learn from this experience? I learned the following things from hosting and teaching two “Learn-to-Code” events at Swansboro Elementary School: 1) Anyone can learn to code if given the opportunity with the proper technology equipment, 2) If the lessons are fun and match what the students are interested in (I taught the students a Scratch lesson having to do with a dancing character and music), they will be more engaged in the topic, 3) The smaller the group, the more one-on-one time available with each student, helping answer questions and encouraging them, 4) The girls of the school had as much passion, if not more, than the boys.
- How will your project continue having an impact in the future? I was glad to see that the “Learn to Code” event positively impacted all of the participants. Several of them asked me to return to the school and visit them again for another coding lesson. Some of the participants continued to create Scratch coding projects at home after school on the day of the event. My classes also seeded the idea for a weekly school coding club with the help of the school librarian and instructional technology person.
- Overall, summarize how your project was completed and how you think it went. We met with the assistant principal, school librarian, and instructional technology person several times. The first time we met, we discussed what the school needed as far as technology equipment in order to have a “Learn to Code” event. We then purchased four ASUS Chromebooks and warranties (the school chose the warranties for wear and tear on the equipment over more Chromebooks and tablets). At the second meeting, we discussed how many and which students should be invited to the event and decided there would be enough participation for two separate events, divided by grade level. The first event would be for third and fourth graders, and second event would be for fifth graders. We also chose the potential date the time for the event, and the school library as the venue, due to having a Smartboard for use. Then, I prepared an agenda for the event and a take-home follow-up sheet for the students. I sent it to everyone and got their approval. On the day of the event, I and the volunteers arrived an hour early to help set up with the librarian and the instruction technology person and to prepare for the event. On the day of the event, we had 14 students in the first event and 11 in the second. I led the students through the process of making a sprite dance in a Scratch project. I went around the room and answered the students’ questions, and each student was able to finish a customized project that they made themselves. Each student took a follow-up sheet home as well as a Scratch sticker which the MIT Media Lab had generously donated. I felt that the event went extraordinarily well and that we were able to reach out to several students at the school. It taught them several principles of programming to help them succeed in the future endeavors of their school and hopefully their career as well. Hopefully it could lead to the creation of a school coding club and additional events at the school. Also, it provided a good framework for my community initiative, Got Tec! Richmond, to follow to potentially have future “Learn to Code” events at different schools.
- How was the Karma for Cara microgrant helpful in the completion of your project? Normally with the small donations we receive, we can only donate one piece of equipment at a time. However, he Karma of Cara microgrant, helped purchase multiple Chromebooks which allowed us to have enough equipment for the “Learn to Code” events.