Aaniyah Wainwright and Zymiah Speller are participants at the Richard England Boys and Girls Clubhouse’ STEAM Camp. (Photo by Christina Sturdivant)
While today’s youth can navigate websites, mobile applications, and mobile devices, very few can create these technologies. This summer, more than 75 Black youth learned the inner workings of digital technology and science at the Richard England Boys and Girls Clubhouse in Northeast, D.C.
Aaniyah Wainwright, 11, and Zymiah Speller, 9, learned website coding during their time at STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) camp. “We made a website together called Songs Around The World,” Wainright, a 6th grader at DC Prep Middle School told the AFRO, Aug. 19. With instruction from D.C. startup Clearly Innovative, participants learned website basics such as altering background colors, fonts, and headings. Then, they moved to more detailed operations.
“On our website, you can listen to pop, classical, and hip hop music. Just click the button and you can listen to them on Soundcloud or Youtube,” said Speller, a 4th grader at KIPP DC Promise Academy.
Last November, Comcast donated $100,000 to fund the clubhouse’s fully renovated technology center and launched the My.Future program initiative. This is the first summer club members were able to utilize the computer lab four days a week. “We’re hoping to cultivate some STEM careers and really have our members reach for the stars because that’s really where the world is going,” said Denieka Wicker, branch director at the club.
During classroom sessions, participants experienced science in new ways. “We made slime over the summer, but that was a chemical reaction that was happening for the slime to take place,” said Wicker. “We also emptied Mentos into Pepsi. They look at it as being fun, but they’re learning.”
Participants also worked with professionals in tech industries and attended field trips to the Microsoft Store and local tech-based co-working spaces.
In the age of cyber-bullying and technology breaches, participants spent a week learning about online security practices. “Don’t put personal information in your password or someone will be able to crack your account,” said Wainright who subscribes to applications such as Kik, ooVoo, Vine and Snapchat.
Having successfully beat summer learning loss, participants will enter this school year with a deeper understanding of technology and how it applies to their everyday lives.