Young People Of Color ‘HACK’ For Black History Month

In February, the United States celebrates Black History Month. This year (2018) dozens of middle and high school students attended a Hack Day at Metro, Atlanta, to commemorate the Month. Students learned about app designing and design thinking, engaged with business and STEM professionals of color, and used design thinking to develop an innovative curriculum around designing apps for social justice.

This hack day was the result of a Computer Science Education Week grant made to Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI) by Infosys Foundation USA. The objective was to help underrepresented students gain increasing access to computer science education.

The hackathon for the young people of color kicked off with LPFI hosts discussing common kinds of conflict in schools and communities in Atlanta, for instance, cyberbullying. Around 70 students participated in the 9-hour coding competition and were guided to work in small groups and apply design thinking to solve social conflict. Over 40 volunteers from industry came together to serve as ‘Idea Coaches’, these included IT professionals, entrepreneurs, teachers, innovators, product managers, and developers. Other tech professionals of color volunteered as tech advisors, mentors, and speakers.

Majority of the students participating in the hackathon had never been exposed to computer science. Thus, this activity was a wonderful way to introduce these students to coding. The Infosys Foundation USA believes that it is computer science education experiences such as these that are key to enabling underrepresented students gain access to and participate in computer science, not just during Black History month, but throughout the school year.

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