TSU – Apple Coding Initiative Sparks Girls’ Interest

Participants in “Everyone Can Code and Create” initiative for youth on TSU’s Avon Williams \Campus in July. TSU Media Relations

By Lucas Johnson

NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service)Tennessee State University is partnering with Apple, Inc. to teach middle and high school girls how to code, as well as consider careers in STEM.

Youth from ages 8 to 18 will get an opportunity to experience coding at a free camp Nov. 2, 9 and 16 in TSU’s Farrell Westbrook Complex (The Barn) on the main campus. Parents are asked to have their children at each event by 9 a.m. Lunch will also be provided.

In July, TSU launched HBCU C2 “Everyone Can Code and Create,” a national initiative supported by Apple, which seeks to bring coding experiences to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and underserved communities. The initiative is part of TSU’s newly established National Center for Smart Technology Innovations, created through the HBCU C2 Presidential Academy.

The girls coding camp is an extension of the initiative.

“We want to empower young girls to code and create, and understand their capabilities of being an innovator in the field of STEM,” says Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s dean of Graduate and Professional Studies and program director for the coding initiative. 

Dr. Veronica Johnson is president of the Metro Nashville Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., which is partnering with TSU and Apple. She says black women and girls are “vastly underrepresented” in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as performing arts.

“By exposing STEAM projects at an early age, it could help increase their chances of exploring these fields, as they pursue academic degrees and seek future career opportunities,” says Johnson. “Having access to develop needed skill sets to survive in the 21st digital landscape will be critical to the economic impact of the future of black communities.”

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of TSU’s College of Engineering, says the camp is also beneficial to the participants’ parents, or guardians.

“The program also informs parents and adults about the digital world of information technology, and how as individuals you can take control of your learning and knowledge based on your own needs and career goals,” says Hargrove. “The ability to manage information and make data-driven decisions will continue to be a major skill for today and tomorrow’s workforce”

During the girls coding camp, Melton says participants will move around to different stations where they will learn basic coding principles, and “actually code drones and robots to move and function.”

Eleven-year-old Evangeline Davis-Ramos of New York has participated in a similar coding camp, and says she’s glad to see Tennessee State providing such an opportunity for girls her age and older.

“I believe the girls coding camp will be very beneficial,” says Davis-Ramos. “I like building things, and coding helps take ideas I imagine and make them real.”

Melton says the HBCU C2 initiative puts TSU on the forefront of embracing STEM, and she credits the university’s partnership with Apple with being key to its success.

TSU has been charged with strengthening the collaboration by offering the company’s coding curriculum to new audiences. That expansion also includes providing TSU alums the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of app design and app development for free.

“Apple provides an approach to introduce coding and creativity in a nonthreatening manner,” says Melton. “You have children coding. You have seniors coding, and the fact that we have over a thousand people from high school to senior citizens wanting to code and create is phenomenal.”

Also in July, TSU launched the first community “Everyone Can Code and Create” initiative for youth on its Avon Williams Campus. The initiative is also part of the National Center for Smart Technology Innovations.

For more information about the girls coding camp, contact ablack1@tnstate.edu, or call 615-963-7269.

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