"This was the best day ever in my life."
Teacher Jorge Reyes wrote us about this enthusiastic comment, which he overheard from one of the students in his sixth grade technology class at Florence Nightingale Middle School in Cypress Park. The class of 30 students had spent the morning on the USC campus to work on an Hour of Code activity for National Computer Science Education Week.
Google Education not only provided the fun activity to code "An Unusual Discovery," but it also sent over four Google engineers to share with students what they do at Google and how they ended up as a computer scientist. USC Viterbi students also volunteered, with senior Anisha Nagaran leading the class in the activity, undergraduate Kourtney Chima and three Masters students, Laksh Matai, Divyata Singh, and Songchen Li (who also volunteered the next day as well).
Google engineer Daniel Figueira guides the students on the CS First Activity.
L to R: Max Mujica (Google), Divyata (USC student), Laksh (US student), Prabir Pradhan (Google), Daniel Figueira (Google), Kourtney Chima (USD student), Songchen Li (USC student).
Google encourages employees to volunteer as a way of giving back to the community. The three software engineers who came to work with the sixth grade students were impressed with the advanced skills already possessed by Mr. Reyes' students. Max Mujica works on Google Tools and Infrastructure; Daniel Figueira is on the Android TV team, and Prabir Pradhan, who just graduated from college last summer, works on Chrome OS. For the Nightingale students, meeting engineers who worked on technology with which they already familiar made the encounter especially meaningful. The sixth graders also heard from the USC students how they got started coding and where they were going, with one of the USC students heading toward an internship at Google and another with a job waiting for her at Twitter this summer.
Throughout that same day and the next, another group of volunteers was reaching out virtually to 500 K-12 students throughout Los Angeles County on Google Hangouts. A fourth Google Engineer, Scott Wu, joined another group of USC students for this aspect of the week-long outreach organized as a "Code Dojo" by USC's Viterbi Adopt-a-School, Adopt-a-Teacher (VAST) program. Speaking to 19 classrooms where the Scott and the USC students could be seen and heard via computer projection, the volunteers provided a sweeping geographic range of encouragement during CS Ed Week. Having engineers from a company as recognizable as Google plus university students all encouraging them in person and virtually made for a sequence of truly awesome days for the students, their teachers. One hour of code at a time, reaching over 600 students through Code Dojo's mixture of live and virtual events, these volunteers gave the gift of a "best day" ever during a week devoted to inspiration and creativity through computer science.
Students created innovative stories using Google's "An Amazing Discovery" on Scratch 3 .
Google engineer Prabir Pradhan shows a student how to debug his code.
Google engineer Scott Wu (right) and USC students on a virtual call to schools.