Middle School Boys Learn Coding

Minority middle school boys in four cities across the country are gaining hands-on learning experience this summer with advanced technology that is opening their eyes to many of the exciting professional possibilities that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and entrepreneurship skills can offer. Minority Male Makers, a first-of-its-kind, two-year program created by Verizon, aims to enable minority middle school males to become creators and makers through 3D-design and app development.

The long-term program goal is to empower a new generation of men of color by giving them lifelong technology and entrepreneurship skills to build the innovations of tomorrow and create brighter futures for themselves and their families.

Four leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation - Jackson State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Morgan State University and Kentucky State University - are directing this pioneering program, instructing the students daily during intensive, all-day technology classes on campus. The students will also be mentored by college men of color, in collaboration with the National CARES Mentoring Movement.

While much attention has been paid in recent years to empowering girls in these subject areas, few programs exist that specifically aim to spark boys' interest in STEM disciplines.

Rose Kirk, president of Verizon Foundation; Tony Lewis, vice president of State Government Affairs; Dr. David A. Wilson, president of Morgan State University; and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake with students from the Minority Male Makers Program.

"More must be done to ensure that minority men have a chance for a bright future," said Verizon Foundation President Rose Stuckey Kirk. "The number of black men who earned science and engineering bachelor's degrees has remained essentially unchanged for more than a dozen years".

"We have to do better, and Verizon aims to be part of the solution by investing in the futures of minority men as early as middle school," said Kirk.

Students in the program will participate in all-day workshops, four to five days per week, for approximately four weeks. And, once or twice a month during the 2015-2016 school year, the students will participate in additional sessions that will include mentoring and support in their academic progress.

This summer, students participate in workshops four to five days a week for approximately four weeks at Morgan State University. The program started July 6 and ends July 31. Morgan’s curriculum focuses on skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving; along with a range of STEM disciplines, such as app design and development, computer programming, basic coding, modeling, 3D design, 3D printing, and robotics.

During the 2015–2016 school year, the students are to participate in check-in sessions one to two times a month, which are expected to include mentoring and academic support. The program’s impact will be measured by a combination of pre- and post-tests administered at various stages of the program. Changes in student performance on standardized and achievement assessments will also be tracked.