Where Tech Education and Entrepreneurship Collide: Young, Diverse Students Solving Issues in NYC Communities

July 6, 2016 — New York, NY — Code/Interactive (C/I), computer science and entrepreneurship nonprofit organization, partnered with Success Academy Charter School to teach their low-income, diverse scholars. The three week summer program had students explore computer science to create music and mobile applications through two learning platforms: EarSketch and MIT App Inventor. C/I introduced the students to the world of tech and how tech companies/startups define, design, develop, and deploy app ideas.

Students worked in groups to brainstorm problems in their communities and used their app development skills to solve community issues, including: homelessness, sexual harassment, lost pets, and the endangered trees. Below are students app projects called: Homeless No More (HNM), SeedSaver, Help A Paw, and SH Crushers.

Homeless No More (HNM) app gives community members information on how to help local homeless people and decrease the problem. HNM provides the ability for app users to donate money and resources to utilize housing services nearby.

SeedSaver helps users participant in growing the population of trees and in urban areas. The app allows users to take a picture and share the location with a description on the map, providing community members the knowledge of the destruction of trees in their area. This app contributes to community members’ awareness of how important their environment is and how they can help, whether it be reporting a damaged tree, or participating in tree-planting events.

Help A Paw intends to save lost animals by developing a resource to connect community members, ensuring communication within lost pet owners and finders of lost pets. The app allows users to report lost animals and potentially connect lost pets to their owners or to adoption centers.

SH Crushers tackles the issue of sexual harassment people face in the streets everyday. The app features a map and a photo gallery of user-reported sexual harassment incidents and offenders, as well as a quick-call button for emergency situations. The team of young girls hope their app will continue to be used as a safety measure to prevent future incidents by informing other of potentially dangerous areas and individuals.

These apps allowed students to combine their knowledge of computer science and key entrepreneurship skills to solve issues affecting their communities. Students uniquely used EarSketch to code in JavaScript the background music of their pitch videos and sounds in their app. At the end, each group pitched and demod their apps in the videos linked above.

In addition, students got to explore the tech industry even further by visiting Twitter’s NYC office and Electric Fun Stuff. At Twitter, students had a career planning discussion with a diverse team of developers and showcased their app projects.

Students continued to collaborate with technology professionals and entrepreneurs from the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative. This initiative aims to target the lack of access to career counseling middle and high school students have. Students conducted conference calls with all five of the finalists, participating in their app demos and sharing questions and feedback. One of the app groups, Hats & Ladders, created by ThinkZone Games, invited our class of students to their Electric Fun Stuff office for a follow-up conversation about their app and the opportunity to try out their prototype product. Our students really enjoyed the engagement with inspiring tech professionals and felt proud to share their projects as young entrepreneurs as well.

For more information about this partnership and on student projects, contact Code/Interactive’s Program Director, Tom O’Connell at tom@weare.ci.