Saturday, June 10 began like so many Saturdays at the Museum. A group of CHM educators and community partners, all dressed in purple t-shirts, hurried about as they prepared Hahn Auditorium for another Broadcom Presents DesignCodeBuildevent. There was a sense of anticipation and eagerness as the team prepared for what was sure to be an exciting day!
Close to 100 middle school students were in attendance for this particular event. Students from Black Girls Code (Oakland, CA), the Boys & Girls Club of Monterey County (Seaside, CA), and Westborough Middle School (South San Francisco, CA) attended the day’s event, in addition to students from the local community who signed up through public registration.
The event welcomed “rock star” Camille Eddy, a fourth year undergraduate student at Boise State University studying mechanical engineering, current mechanical engineering intern at Google X, and former machine learning intern at HP Labs. Eddy brought peers, friends, and mentors, including Parker Robinson (engineer), Neerja Zambare (PhD student), and Dr. Jeannice Fairrer Samani (senior manager and engineer at the Anita Borg Institute), all of whom have had a significant impact on Eddy’s career and dreams thus far.
As a middle school student, Eddy had dreams of becoming an astronaut, eventually leading to her decision to become an engineer. As a college student, she has explored many new opportunities in the pursuit of her dream. In doing so, Eddy emphasized the importance of mentors who inspire you and push you to follow your dreams. She encouraged students to be strong and confident in their achievements, as this paves the way for future opportunities. Toward the end of her time on stage, Eddy urged students to “be confident, and act like you belong—because you do!” These strong and encouraging words resonated with students, staff, and volunteers alike.
Students took on new and exciting challenges throughout the day. DesignCodeBuild’s level 2 program kicked off with students exploring the Museum’s exhibitions, Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing and Make Software: Change the World! Discussion-based exploration of artifacts and stories prompted students to think about the impact of technology and better understand hardware and software as they dove into the next challenge of the day—physical computing to turn on a light.
Students were prompted to design a structure and write code that would use a golf ball as an input to turn on a light. It was a flurry of green t-shirts as students collaborated to design, code, and build their projects. By the end of the day, confidence was soaring. Even though not all the projects worked as originally planned, teamwork, critical thinking, and creativity had a lasting impact. “[I enjoyed] the challenge at the end because we collaborated and problem-solved as a team,” stated one student.
Broadcom Presents Design_Code_Build is a full-day program for students in grades 6 through 8. Engaging and hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activities revolve around concepts of collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Within a positive, noncompetitive environment, students gain motivation and confidence as an active, capable problem-solvers and innovators. The diverse group of keynote “rock star” speakers invited to each event also help instill confidence and inspire students to follow their dreams.
The Design_Code_Build program successfully kicked off in July of 2014, following much hard work and dedication by Kate McGregor and other CHM staff and supporters, and has continued to thrive in subsequent years. To date, over 3,500 students have participated in DesignCodeBuild, including students from 30 different community organizations from around the Bay Area and beyond. The program has also hosted 48 inspiring “rock star” guest speakers that have shared their passion with attendees. Speakers have come from companies such as Google, Facebook, and NASA, to name a few, and have included influential founders of companies, including Laila Shabir (Girls Make Games) and Nita Singh Kaushal (Miss CEO).
The program is staffed by a team of passionate and diverse instructors, backed by the support of enthusiastic corporate volunteers, including the Broadcom Foundation, the Cisco Foundation, and the KLA Tencor Foundation. Due to increased interest and enthusiasm, DesignCodeBuild added an intermediate level program for returning and advanced students in fall 2015, with hopes of adding additional levels in the future! In addition to the large-scale onsite program, there is work toward developing offsite programming, allowing us to take programming to our community partners, while expanding educational opportunities and resources for students beyond what they learn at DesignCodeBuild onsite events.
A large focus of the Broadcom Presents DesignCodeBuild program continues to be community outreach. Working closely with community partners, we are able to make the program accessible to students who may not otherwise have this kind of opportunity. Since our pilot event in 2014, DesignCodeBuild has hosted 30 community organizations. The geographical reach of the program spans from Marin County to Fresno County, and many more between! Of the 30 community partners we have worked with, 14 have attended multiple events, including all 3 organizations participating on June 10 (Black Girls Code, Boy & Girls Club of Monterey County, and Westborough Middle School). Sustained relationships such as these have allowed the program to flourish and grow over the past 3 years.
The Education Department at CHM has seen continual growth over the years, and DesignCodeBuild has had a positive impact on the overall reach to communities throughout the Bay Area and beyond. This year, we are beginning to see many of our community partners bring students back to the Museum for additional educational opportunities outside of DesignCodeBuild, including our K-12 and community workshops.
The DesignCodeBuild program, itself, is unique in its target group of middle school students—a group, which we have learned through conversations with various partners, can often times be overlooked for large-scale educational opportunities such as this. Everyone involved with DesignCodeBuild is dedicated to making the program accessible to all middle school students, with an emphasis on those groups that are underrepresented in the STEAM fields, will have a lasting impact on youth and our community as a whole.