GUEST WRITER: Savannah Smith, Macys.com EDP Tech Star
Macys.com operations are located primarily in San Francisco with the rest of Silicon Valley’s tech talent. With computer science and technology playing a key role in the business function’s everyday life, it made perfect sense to give back to the community through technology.
The Hour of Code is a “one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science” started by Code.org and a perfect fit for Macys.com talent. In partnership with the Women at Macy’s Employee Resource Group and the Macy’s Union Square Special Events Team, Macys.com held four, one-hour sessions at the Macy’s Union Square Tech Center. The event was a success with more than 40 children participating and we think you will agree after reading just one of the amazing and heart-warming stories shared from the Hour of Code event.
Computer science and technology can help nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting education in the field earlier in students’ academic paths, they’ll have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path. From Code.org
As an Hour of Code volunteer veteran, I strongly I believe in the mission of Code.org – to inspire students to build technology, especially students who have never been exposed to computing before. It's about giving every student the opportunity to learn a critical 21st century skill.
The event began with each student receiving a pencil case with school supplies and headphones, and each was escorted to a computer to start their programming adventure. As a volunteer, my job was to offer support by helping the children locate at which module they should start and to help them find new ways to solve problems.
I found myself helping a six-year-old girl. She immediately made it clear that she didn’t want to be there and that her mom had made her attend to get her interested in the field. She didn’t want to work with Minecraft or Star Wars because she “hated them,” so I had her start on a Frozen module. For the next hour, she angrily hit the table in frustration when the program didn’t run how she wanted, followed by hands clapping in excitement when she passed a level. I walked her through the beginning levels but she soon started to recognize the patterns to victory on her own.
The most interesting thing I taught her wasn’t how to connect bits of code together to allow Elsa to skate around the screen, but was the foreign concept of using a mouse to click and drag objects. This new generation is growing up with touch-screen smart devices that don’t require the use of a mouse.
By the end of level eight, the young girl was disappointed to realize there were 20 total levels and her Frozen module would soon end. Not only was she learning new concepts, but she was enjoying it; a similar trend occurred around the room as the children found they actually liked to code.
The day was a huge success and who knows ... maybe in 10 to 15 years, we’ll start seeing new employees at Macys.com who can say they got their start in computer science at the Macy’s Union Square Hour of Code event.