Nerdery-mentored kids go to Congress

“Give a nerd a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a nerd to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
– adapted proverb, some liberties taken

Congress just got an earful from a group of Nerdery-mentored 8th grade students from Project Infinite Green who hit up Dave Kam, our Chicago branch manager, for some after-school tutelage in programming.

“Their advisor, Catherine Greenspon, heard about us due to the Overnight Website Challenge and contacted me to see if we would be interested in building an app for them,” said Kam. “I told them we could mentor the students so they could build it themselves. It was decided that they would come in and we would give them guidance.”

Project Infinite Green was built to encourage STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education by taking school children on a journey through U.S. energy sources.

“The kids have studied both renewable and nonrenewable energy sources,” said Catherine. “After completing the nuclear module, our nuclear team decided that our nation, at large, does not understand the realities of nuclear energy. Their plan is to start a nuclear awareness campaign – one component of the campaign is the nuclear awareness windows mobile app.”

“The programming of the app has forced the kids to really think about the variables of the nuclear plant,” said Catherine. “We also have one student, Jeremy, who is now thinking he wants to be Dave when he grows up. He was originally thinking of becoming a chemical engineer.”

The students are in D.C. May 16-18, presenting to the STEM ED Caucus (members are from both the House and Senate) and the Global Environment Facility (The GEF). Catherine said she hoped Congressional leaders would “give the kids a global perspective on their green business plans and also help them apply their plans to emerging countries.”

“I would wager even Congress is never really ready for their day with Congress, but I think the kids are well on their way” said Kam. “They have a wealth of information and various presentations they have prepared. The web app we worked on is just part of all that. I was impressed with their eagerness to learn. Not just about HTML/CSS/Javascript, but about things in general. The kids are focusing on nuclear energy and have been doing a good amount of research on the subject. They are pretty much like sponges and soak everything up.”

“The Nerdery has provided a unique opportunity for me to learn to code,” said Kevin, an eighth-grader with Project Infinite Green. “Dave spent over 20 hours helping us develop our app. With his expertise we have created an excellent beta version of our Nuclear Awareness app.”

Asked if he sees any future Nerds among these students, Dave replied, “I'd say so! The kids have shown a high degree of self motivation and should succeed in whatever they choose to pursue in the future. They should now have basic HTML/CSS skills and have a better understanding on how web technology works. They were briefly exposed to Javascript and OOP (Object Oriented Programming) as well. So hopefully that sparks their interest in software development in general.”

“My time at The Nerdery has been a wonderful,” said Philip, an eighth-grader. “I was able to learn more about computer coding than I would have been able to learn on my own in 24 hours. The people here are also very friendly and they make my stressful Wednesday more fun. We also learn about each other while we are here and how well everyone is doing with computer coding ... I believe that The Nerdery is the best place ever!”

“It was great working with people who may not know what exactly web development entails and getting the opportunity to explain it to them and even guide them while they got their hands dirty doing it,” said Dave. “It was a lot of fun!”

“The team didn’t want to leave  on our last night,” said Catherine. “ They were all wondering when we would see Dave again. He has a fan club.”

Published on 05/18/2012

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