Sticky: Crescent Solutions and CAA Foundation Host Tech Workshop for High School Students

Crescent Solutions was excited to partner with the CAA Foundation to co-host our third STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) workshop with high school students from the Fulfillment Fund and Communities in Schools Los Angeles programs. This particular workshop focused on giving these teens—who are generally at-risk youth and the first in their families to go to college—a hands-on approach to learning HTML and coding hosted at CAA’s beautiful Century City office.

This is the second set of workshops that Crescent Solutions has been involved in, with our Los Angeles operations manager Stephanie Le and CAA’s Ivan Bermudez spearheading the project, who are both deeply involved in planning the curriculum and the events. At our last STEM event, the students were given a chance to hear inspirational talks from leaders in the STEM field, including a number of multi-cultural and female speakers. In the coming months, the students will have another workshop and a graduation ceremony for the program.

“My favorite statistic is that by the year 2020 there will be 400,000 students that study computer science and there will be 1.4 million technology jobs available,” said Le. “I think that’s a powerful piece of information and something I really want to impart with these kids. If we can inspire one student on a path they wouldn’t have otherwise known about, then it’s an important endeavor.”

Crescent Solution’s own Michael Chiang and Rich Kahn are mentors at the Fulfillment Fund, and Le and Kahn are also on the Scholarship Review Committee for the same nonprofit.

Our recent workshop equipped each of the 62 students with a laptop, and CoderDojo Los Angeles founders Shara Karasic and Una Fox gave them a tutorial on building websites using HTML code. At the end of the session, a number of teens eagerly lined up to volunteer to show the group the websites they created—each showcasing their different personalities and a great sense of humor.

Karasic—who runs an interactive agency called Communik8t—and Fox, a VP at Disney, launched the Los Angeles chapter of CoderDojo in June 2012, a program that started in Ireland that teaches kids from age eight to 16 how to develop websites, apps, games, and more. With the help of volunteers, the organization promotes a socially-driven technological environment, encouraging students to interact with one another and have older, more advanced students teach younger ones.

Currently, Karasic and Fox teach monthly workshops hosted at Google in Los Angeles and will soon start having ones at Idealab. They are always looking for more volunteer teachers, sponsors, and spaces to host the workshops. (Find out how you can help here.) They even use programs like Scratch, a visual programming platform, to teach younger kids variables and conditionals in coding—a drag and drop program since they predominately struggle with typing. Karasic is working on a new program teaching students how to create apps, and encouraging her students to add content to the CoderDojo app she created so they can be more involved.

“I really hope that they feel comfortable expressing themselves with digital tools and have literacy—that power,” Karasic said. “Personally, being involved with the internet and mobile apps has provided me to be creative and get paid being creative, be collaborative with interesting people, and have a job no matter how bad the economy is.”