We Connect The Dots, Inc. delivered their annual Discovery Day at the NYC Microsoft Time Square location on March 31, 2015. Over 150 students and teachers from the surrounding NY Metro area attended the daylong program. A unique and exciting experience, Discovery Day is not only a chance for students and professionals to learn from one another, it is also entirely coordinated by student volunteers from the WCTD leadership development program with assistance from the WCTD staff. Volunteers such as Think Productivity CEO, Laurie Carey support the 501(c)(3) not for profit organization’s mission to empower students by teaching 21st workforce skills and bringing awareness to the many career opportunities across STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.
This year’s program included a digital scavenger hunt created by the volunteer team, which was designed to teach attending students about workforce skills, digital citizenship, and team collaboration. Students utilized a micro blogging tool by Microsoft called Yammer to find clues and reinforce the program learning experience throughout the day. Teams competed for prizes, which included gaming headsets donated by Plantronics, free attendance to the WCTD summer program, and several six-month subscriptions to DropTask Pro donated by Think Productivity. Clues lead students to perform reading comprehension tasks, utilize research, and develop problem solving skills throughout the day. The activity also introduced the students to the topics they would cover throughout the day.
One such topic was a new software tool known as DropTask, which helps users to organize tasks and keep projects moving forward. Laurie Carey introduced DropTask to students in a session to teach students about the many career opportunities developing as a result of the growth of Software as a Service (SAAS) applications. To expand on the uses for DropTask, the presentation was delivered as a mentoring opportunity for Vincent Occhiogrosso, one of the students from WCTD's leadership development program. Vincent enjoys performing in front of his peers and gaining confidence in his public speaking skills. Vincent shared with the audience the power of DropTask as a tool and how he utilizes DropTask to manage his schoolwork and the volunteer work he does for WCTD.
Vincent also presented as a mentoring opportunity with Pat Esposito, teaching students how to create Windows universal apps using Microsoft’s App Studio online tool. Following the App Studio session Pat, a tech consultant and programmer, lead the students through an introduction to Visual Studio where participants learned how they could build a prototype app in App Studio and then import into Visual Studio. This allowed students to see first hand how app coding is generated. Because mobile application development is a field that is growing rapidly, teaching students how to build mobile applications and utilize tools like Microsoft Visual Studio are important 21st century workforce skills.
The day rounded out with the team from the Long Island Microsoft Store sharing Microsoft ProjectSpark. ProjectSpark is a powerful, yet simple way to build and play your own worlds, stories and games. Students were very interested in the ProjectSpark program, and were eager to get a chance to move forward with their own gaming ideas. As a part of the Discovery Day program, students were invited to register for WCTD summer CreatingSTEAM and CreatingIDEAS programs being held at NYIT in Old Westbury in July. During these events students will have even more opportunities to explore emerging technology and the gaming industry’s ongoing evolution.
WCTD would like to extend a special thanks to the following people: Thank you to our student leadership program volunteers and the WCTD staff who worked diligently to support our annual Discovery Day program and for being present during the event to assist the attendees; thanks to our presenters from the Microsoft Store and to Pat Esposito for volunteering their time, thank you to Microsoft for hosting our program and to Felicia Guity for providing the Surface devices; and finally we would like to also thank Anne Haack for her amazing photos from the event.