This year’s 2017 International Back-To-School Code-a-thon provided students the opportunity to engage with their peers in an immersive experiential learning program. Many students experienced for the very first time what coding is about, learning to work with other students in a coding project for the first time, and alumni students from last year had the opportunity to share their knowledge as a mentor for the first time. Many first‘s that shaped their thinking to explore, create, and solve problems on a global scale. Learning to collaborate within their team’s and learning the value of cross collaboration with teams from around the world.
This is an experience you will not find anywhere but here. Designed and shaped with a foundation in brain-based learning, with a goal to spark students interest, build confidence, and inspire them to want to learn more. This program not only brings together students to learn, it builds strong community partnerships with industry, educators, and parents. Volunteers come from outside the communities and within the communities, to play a role in educating students, sharing their knowledge, and learning together.
Like all our programs it is never just about the technology or learning to code, it is about the whole experience. Students come to the program unsure of what to expect. They ask questions like "Can I pick who I work with, or can I be on a team with my friends?" The answer to those questions is always no. We pick the teams and there is a reason behind the why. Everything we do has a reason and it relates to the real-world work experience that students will soon participate in their future. We explain all of our reasons, when we do students begin to see the big picture. They understand that when they enter the workforce they will not be able to pick who they work with, to succeed they need to learn to work together. We begin with some fun activities to get acquainted and build from there, to create teams that bond through their values and common interests. They use that bond to create a conceptual business that solves a global problem.
Students learn the value of supporting each other’s success, within their teams, and across teams from other locations. Learning the value of peer feedback, shaping ideas to bring greater value, and validate their own thinking and that of their teams.
This initiative has a bigger goal then just teaching students to code and helping support their success. it is about supporting communities around the world that would never have the resources, knowledge, or foundation of where to begin to provide their students an immersive experiential learning program. This is about addressing the opportunity divide to ensure every student no matter where they live have a chance for success. Hidden in rural areas beyond the reach of local industry, or within an inner city where fear and violence block and limit opportunities for success. This is an organic concept that scales to create impact and transform lives, and discover the brilliance in a young mind.
However, it doesn’t happen unless people who care about making a difference step in to bring about that change. People like Jennifer Hoff in Darby, PA, Alvin Rogers in Harlem, NY, and Kathy Bunce in Western Australia. People committed to rally their communities to take on a program that requires hard work and big returns. They can’t do it alone and we know that all too well. Our team provides them the guidance, the experience, the tools, curriculum, activities, and most important the connections to industry and volunteers to help them make a difference.
In order to create organic growth, you have to create the right recipe for success. That key ingredient is our Community Ambassador Program (CAP), these our volunteer students ranging from ages 14-22 years old. They are driven by curiosity, hungry for the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom, and driven to lead and make an impact on the world in a positive way. They want to be coached to success, they want to be a part of an entrepreneur environment that provides them autonomy to create and shape something with their peers for their peers. At We Connect The Dots the entire organization is run by volunteers, there are no huge salaries, only people who want to make a mark on the world. A mark so big it creates a disruption in the world that allows every student an opportunity to succeed. This program is expanding each year and as we expand more communities benefit from the efforts of these students. It is with enormous pride that I acknowledge these students for their commitment, their passion, and their courage to build this organization together.
Without the alignment to industry, we would not be able to create this organic impact. Without the volunteers, passionate about teaching, and learning through participation, the parents willing to embrace something new, together we create positive disruption. We do this through amazing experiential project based learning programs. We thank all of our sponsors from around the world who gave funds, food, their time, their voice in the community, and the parents who took a risk on the unknown, and most of all to the students who were curious to want to be a part of something new that transformed them into learning to code.
To learn more about the Code-a-thon program and to see the amazing projects and photos from the program visit http://we-connect-the-dots.org/results-of-2017-codeathon/
When you view the images what you will see is a program shaped by students, designed by students, delivered by students, and every photo and video taken and produced by students.