Youthspark is area of Microsoft that focuses on educating children to understand what the tech field is, to become excited about the tech field and to encourage growth in the tech field. It’s an umbrella for many different programs. They have employees that volunteer to teach programming classes, they partner with teachers that aren’t able to teach it and then teach the teacher how to teach it and within two years that teacher is supposed to be able to teach computer programming.
They have programs for just girls, they have computer camps that are run out of Microsoft Stores and they are free camps. Then they also have this thing called Imagine Cup. I just attended Imagine Cup while staying in Seattle with Microsoft and it was eye opening what I learned about students all over the world. In one way it made me sad because I don’t feel like kids in the United States are learning as much. I feel like we need to do more in the United States to improve education or our kids are going to fall behind.
Imagine Cup is a technology competition for students ages 16 and up to develop a technology application in one of three categories (citizenship, games and innovation) and create a business plan to bring the technology to market. One team in each category will win $50,000 and business acceleration training. The students first had to compete against students in their own countries and the projects that I saw were amazing. One team created an app that would determine if someone had sickle cell and if they did then it would allow people in that community to request medicine. Most people that die from it do not even know that they had it. So raising awareness is key. Another team created this glove that helps stroke patience move their hand after they have lost mobility. Seeing that made me super excited because I have arthritis and imagine needing help with mobility in my hands one day. Another team created software that made your computer completely usable from your facial expressions and voice.
Theses kids are future world leaders and I want kids in our country to be world leaders too. What has to happen to raise the bar for education and the requirements for graduation.