September 18, 2021
I am part of a team that is creating a STEAM Center for kids at the Dynamic Wellness Store and Cultural Center in Washington, DC, built on the foundation of an existing chess club, to empower under-represented youth. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.
I primarily use the Scratch coding language – a FREE online coding platform created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Scratch is visually engaging for small children (8yr+) and uses coding blocks similar to puzzle pieces. I’ve found that even children as young as 6 or 7 are able to follow examples from Scratch coding cards and re-create the code on their screen. Scratch also has an included image editor and sound editor, so the children love drawing/editing their own characters and making their own sounds to enhance the games and animations they make.
While I teach the kids to code, I continually incorporate meta concepts from math and science like the X-Y Coordinate Plane, the Visible Color Spectrum, or anything else their curiosity leads them to as they ask questions and relate to what they’re learning. Just the other day, a simple conversation about water turned into an ad-hoc chemistry mini lesson about the H20 molecule!
My goal is to get the kids interested in and excited for STEAM. I wear earrings made from recycled circuit boards and a DIY LED bracelet — anything to catch their attention and foster their interest in STEAM.
This is just the beginning of the journey, and I would like to reach as many underrepresented kids as possible throughout the city (and the world!) — just last week we did a WhatsApp video chat with a children’s chess club in South Africa and the kids perked up with excitement when I mentioned Scratch coding!
Feel free to contact me with ideas, support, encouragement, resources, advice, or just a big virtual “high-five”! It takes a village – let’s do this!!
PS – I’ll be updating this page with links and photos and progress about our movement, so stay tuned!