Berkeley IEOR and Georgia Tech ISYE partner with Kids Teach Tech to inspire underrepresented youth with the power of engineering and data analytics
This summer, Berkeley IEOR, Georgia Tech ISYE, and Kids Teach Tech partnered to deliver The Seth Bonder Camp in Computational and Data Science for Engineering to 5th - 12th grade students. The camp introduced data science and analytics with real world applications in games, sentiment analysis, computational biology, and medical diagnosis. The camp was offered free of charge to underrepresented students with the goal of demystifying computer programming and supporting a pipeline to data science and engineering education in high school and college.
Two camps were offered in collaboration with Kids Teach Tech, a non-profit founded by Arjun Mulchandani, currently 14 years old and a 9th grade student from California who is passionate about teaching other kids how to code. His team encompasses a community of youth who create and teach programming classes to their peers, both in person and online, reaching underrepresented youth not only across the United States but also internationally.
Schedule for the 1st day, presented by Kids Teach Tech Camp Director Aahan Bagga. Students learned coding concepts in Snap! and used them to move a robot named Karel
The first camp – exclusively for students from Kids Teach Tech – prepared youth to deliver the material themselves. In the following camp session, those same students hosted their own Seth Bonder Camp, in conjunction with the Georgia Tech team, UC Berkeley IEOR and the Urban League of Greater San Francisco Bay Area. The camp was a huge success, and over 80% of the attendees were underrepresented students.
“We are excited to partner with Georgia Tech and Kids Teach Tech to help them expand their reach to students in California. A number of our graduate students helped with the camp and delivered the curriculum in this valuable program,” said Alper Atamturk, Professor and Chair, Berkeley IEOR. “What I find most inspiring is that most of the kids in this program really have few opportunities to learn this material elsewhere. Ultimately, our goal is to inspire them to pursue engineering and data science and create pathways to engineering programs in universities, such as UC Berkeley and Georgia Tech for students with diverse backgrounds.”
IEOR PhD candidate Caleb Bugg, who mentored the KTT team of teachers and provided technical guidance for the camp said, “It was a pleasure working with the Kids Teach Tech team and all of the students. When I think about sustainable ways to get young students involved in the technology revolution, especially behind the scenes with math and engineering, I think of models like Kids Teach Tech. I enjoyed the entire experience, from training, to execution, to the chance for scholars to show off their work to their parents. I hope this program is around for a while and that other communities look towards the model as a great way to train students to be scholars and peer teachers.”
The Kids Teach Tech team moderating a UC Berkeley IEOR Panel featuring alumna Sarina Chen, PhD student Caleb Bugg and IEOR Professor and Chair, Alper Atamturk. Kids Teach Tech team members in the video include Arjun Mulchandani (Founder), Lucas Speier (Director Operations), Nicholas Wong (Director Camp, Teacher Training), Inaaya Hyder (Director Girl Empowerment), Hudson Hilal (Director Recruiting), Dayla Fields (Director DEI), Mikael Akpala (Ambassador, Teacher Trainer), Akshay Kamath (Director Java), and Nancy Heppe (Java Curriculum)
“Kids Teach Tech is thrilled to amplify the reach and impact of the Seth Bonder program through our partnership with UC Berkeley and Georgia Tech,” said Sarbani Banerjee Mulchandani, President & Executive Director of Kids Teach Tech. “As a UC Berkeley IEOR alumna and former technology executive, I know the vast areas of opportunity an IEOR degree opens up, and invite more IEOR alums, students, and their families to join us in bringing these opportunities to more underrepresented youth. We welcome adults to volunteer or mentor, and youth to apply to join the Kids Teach Tech team. There is no prior expertise required, since the team offers extensive training.”
President of the Urban League of Greater San Francisco Bay Area, Kenneth Maxey II, added, “We are excited about this partnership to be able to offer this program to youth in our community. The size of the program was doubled this summer to accommodate the large number of applicants we received. It has the potential to truly make a difference in the lives of underrepresented youth, enhancing and improving equity. We hope that many of these students will also join the program and become future leaders in the industry.”
The camp’s curriculum featured several modules that were offered in four levels ranging from basic to advanced. The first module offered an introduction to the visual programming language Snap! and was followed by units in more advanced programming as well as computational data science, optimization, machine learning, and computational biology.
“We want to let kids know about the revolution that is happening in every field right now driven by data science,” says Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck of Georgia Tech ISYE. “Data science and analytics is changing the way we build and move around cities, helping us move from fossil fuels to wind and solar, changing healthcare with personalized medicine, and helping us understand the universe to discover new planets. By empowering kids with computational and data science skills, and helping them apply them to real-world problems, we are sending the message to kids that data science is for everyone, and that they can be part of the revolution too.”
Van Hentenryck used a Marvel theme for the course material, which included a movie trailer-style introduction, the Avengers theme song as an intro to each lecture, and even wearing a Nick Fury costume while teaching. “The students become superheroes by learning how to code,” he explained.
Looking forward, Van Henteryck, Atamturk, Kids Teach Tech, and the rest of the collaborators hope to transform the Seth Bonder camp into a longitudinal program that offers increasingly sophisticated camps by secondary school grade, with the goal of keeping high school students interested over time. Another goal is to offer versions of the camp throughout the school year and update the curriculum with new tools, including teaching Python, one of the most popular programming languages used in data science in industry today.
Final presentation from Morgan Dayna Burton, a rising 11th grader interested in aerospace engineering and computer science
Final presentation from Zyander Buse, a rising 10th grader interested in computer engineering