Learning didn’t stop over the summer for a group of middle school girls from E.D. Walker Middle School in Addison, who are part of the Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas organization. These girls joined other Girls Inc. students from across North Texas at the Capital One Coders Ignite program on July 26 at the Capital One Conference Center in Plano to learn how to design a mobile app.
“I’m more interested in technology now because I’m making something new that’s exciting in the Capital One Coders program,” said Vashti Cooksey, 8thgrade student from Ed Walker Middle School, in a recent press release.
The Capital One Coders Ignite program is part of Capital One’s Coders program, which is a 10-week journey to learn software development skills that culminates in the creation of their own mobile apps. It started at two schools in 2014, and has grown to 35 different schools across the country with an objective to expose middle school students to technology by partnering with schools and community leaders to foster a focus in software engineering. More than 1,000 Capital One associates have volunteered as instructors and mentors to share their passion for technology and help future software engineers.
Since June, groups of Girls Inc. students have been working with Capital One mentors to learn block-based programming and design in order to create Android applications. This is useful for beginning learners as it provides easy operations and improves the readability of programs. The learning the students did focuses on combining visual blocks that represent elements such as operations and variables, and learning basic concepts of programming and processing.
The Capital One Coders program aligns with its Future Edge initiative that was started in 2015. This initiative pledged $150 million over five years to help prepare Americans with the skills, tools and resources needed to succeed in an ever-increasing digital economy. The Future Edge DFW initiative is Capital One’s commitment to make the Dallas/Fort Worth area a destination for talent, spur growth as a world-renowned technology hub and nurture the leaders of tomorrow.
The Capital One Coders program is an example of the impact the Future Edge initiative is having on helping students develop technological skills. The program is designed to ensure young people have the necessary resources to understand and explore their interest in STEM and to bridge the STEM education gap. Middle school is a critical time in their education, as students begin to hone in on their interests during this time.
Through the program, students learn the basic principles of software development and how to create apps through touchscreens, motion detection, control and coding. Students also learned how to develop apps for mobile language devices and grow in computation thinking skills, such as algorithms, abstraction, decomposition, pattern recognition and generalization, so they can continue working on what they have learned beyond the program and explore on their own.
Since the creation of the Coders program four years ago, Capital One has worked with approximately 700 students in North Texas and more than 2,500 across the country. In total, more than 500 different mobile apps have been created with the help of MIT App Inventor 2. These student-generated apps include Nutri-Tron, an app that allows users to input food allergies and scan the barcodes of food packages to see if they contain an allergen, and Impulse Racer, a racing game where you can pick a car and compete against others.
“For my career, I wan to be a food scientist and make new foods and flavors,” added Cooksey in the press release. “The Coders program has opened my mind to create new ideas for food products. Technology will make me rise in my career and make people take notice of me because I’m creating new foods and flavors they’ve never tried before.”
This program worked with Girls Inc. to help girls specifically become more interested in STEM and to get excited about technology. Girls Inc. believes that every girl deserves experiences that will help enable her to earn her education and become a healthy, independent and thriving adult. At Girls Inc. Dallas, the focus is on teaching girls to value themselves, take risks and discover and develop their strengths. Through a combination of long-lasting relationships and research-based programming, girls are equipped to navigate gender, economic and social barriers, as well as grow up prepared for postsecondary success and 21stcentury careers.
Girls Inc. was founded in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil Wars. Over the decades, Girls Inc. adapted to meet the specific environmental challenges facing girls and young women, always working in partnership with schools and communities and guided by the founders’ belief in the inherent potential of each girl. Girls Inc. Dallas was founded in 1968 and has provided high quality afterschool and summer programs for girls ages six to 18 from low-income communities in Dallsa County.
The E.D. Walker Middle School is named after Dr. Ewell D. Walker, former teacher and assistant superintendent for Dallas ISD. It is a community of excellence, complete with wonderful students and staff in the North Dallas Community. The school is a community of learners, with teachers who continually work on their craft and students who are committed to doing things “The Walker Way.” The school’s mottos are “Learning Today…Leading Tomorrow!” and “High expectations for every student, every class period, every day, no exceptions and no excuses!”