Dave Pistone: Education and technology industry collaborating in Nevada County
The Nevada County Tech Connection and the Nevada County Economic Resource Council are two local organizations that are involved in supporting, connecting and showcasing technology capabilities and ensuring a thriving, attractive business environment in Nevada County.
One of the goals of these organizations is to enable local technology companies and local schools to work more closely to help prepare students for higher education and for future jobs in the technology sector. One such effort that was kicked off recently involves Grass Valley, a Belden Brand (formerly known as the Grass Valley Group) and Mount St. Mary’s Academy.
Remington Maxwell, a Nevada Union graduate and current Senior Software Engineer for Grass Valley, kicked off the effort last month by teaching a structured programming class to students in grades 5-8 in the Computer Club at Mount St. Mary’s Academy in Grass Valley before school. This class is based on a college-level course she took and is designed to introduce structured programming techniques and a logical thought process to the students.
It goes a step beyond the approaches commonly utilized at this level, such as Khan Academy and Code.org, and formalizes the process. Most importantly, it paves the way toward increasing the collaboration between the wealth of technology resources in our community and the local education sector.
According to Remington, “We are at a time where having technical skills is crucial to almost any job in the workforce. By learning logical thinking and programming concepts at a young age, these students will be better prepared for any vocation that they pursue. I took my first programming class in my freshman year of college, and I can only imagine how much easier my classes would have been if I had been exposed to programming concepts at their age. I hope to not only help these students build technical skills, but potentially inspire them to pursue a career in a tech-related field.”
The goals of this effort are to pilot a proof-of-concept program, refine it, document the methodology, package it up as a turnkey program and make it available to schools and tech companies in the community in order to easily replicate it at other schools. The students participating at Mount St. Mary’s are excited to get started and to have an opportunity to learn from someone who works in the technology field.
The parents are also excited. As one mom stated, “I’m pleased that my daughter has the confidence to try doing something familiar, but in a new way. She’s learning to illustrate by writing code. She’s getting to a familiar end point, but has opened up to a new way of getting there. Plus, there’s a fair amount of math. That’s always good practice!” A second parent chimed in, “My daughter enjoys the programming class and is thrilled with what she’s learning and the opportunity to participate in this extracurricular program. She dreams of pursuing an engineering degree in the future and this class offers an opportunity to develop her skillset at an early age.”
If you are a tech-sector employee who would be like to get more information about participating, or a school who would be interested in obtaining more information about hosting such a class for your students in the future, contact Dave Pistone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dave Pistone is a teacher at Mount St. Mary’s in Grass Valley.
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