A recent morning in Seattle began with rain—typical—but something much more unusual was happening in a school in Seattle’s University District. High schoolers leaned over the desks of middle school students, offering suggestions and encouragement as their younger peers blasted zombies and guided R2-D2 around obstacles. Rather than just playing video games, though, the teens were controlling the characters by writing instructions for them to follow.
Shaded from the Arizona sun in his grandfather’s garage, Mark Dancho used to help wire up a doorbell or build a light table together – tinkering projects that relied on the older man’s experience as an electrical engineer.
“Those are my fond memories of him,” Dancho remembers of his grandfather, who had little patience for children but would allow the kids to help. “He showed me it’s not just about buying something others have made…”
Leonardo Souza has seen firsthand how computer science education changes lives. His own trajectory switched from factory work to software engineering when he got into a technical high school outside his native São Paolo. Then when his brother was stuck in a job he dreaded, Souza taught him computer science from afar; the brother now works in the tech field.
One Saturday, Minh Nguyen was waiting for the subway to head home. He looked up and noticed a student in his AP computer science class, who was standing with a friend. He said hi and, to his surprise, the two chatted for the next several stops.
As the train sped along, Nguyen and the high schooler talked about the class. She explained how much she liked it, enjoyed computer science – and wanted to go to MIT.
“How much money do you make?”
The question took Rohan Pal by surprise. Sure, he’d offered to answer questions – any question – about computer science. Clearly the taboo against discussing salaries didn’t register for the 22 students in this Austin computer science class.
It’s tough for high schoolers to get excited about anything at 8am. So Microsoft Azure program manager Silvia Doomra brought enough chocolate to go around when she met the 20 students in an introduction to computer science class she co-teaches.
To Doomra’s surprise, though, the Quincy High School teens were plenty enthusiastic even without the sugar boost. That morning was the first time they’d met her in person…