This spring, the CEC launched STEAM studio spaces in close partnership with Remake Learning, the Hill Community Development Corp (CDC), Partner4Work and Pitt’s Center for Creativity. The year-long planning process also resulted in nine STEAM Studio seed grants, each awarding up to $5,000 to fund collaborative teams of community organizations and Pitt faculty and staff.
Local organization School2Career received two STEAM Studio seed grants to work on a student entrepreneur competition for early 2021 and a showcase for community health care workers. School2Career is also engaged with other Hill District CEC programs, such as introductory workshops that teach high school students coding with Python, a computer programming language, and skills needed to work in IT support.
“Twice a week, they’re meeting with Pitt staff to learn computer coding. In a virtual world, it’s exciting to offer these quality programs,” said Karla Stallworth, program director for School2Career, which is part of the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation. “A lot of city schools typically don’t offer Python for youth, for example. The CEC has been really getting the community involved and hearing the community’s voice as to what is needed in the Hill District and surrounding areas.”
While introducing people to computer coding and programming may seem like a daunting task, the classes offered through the CEC don’t require any prior computer programming experience and are bringing education and fun together.
“We want to contextualize the technology in a way people want to use it. We also want to make sure the ecosystem of the tools they use are all covered and connected,” said Alka Singh, director of experiential learning for Pitt’s School of Computing Information, a partner of the Hill District CEC. “We actually don’t use terms like ‘coding concepts’; we say things like, ‘We’re going to move this character on the X/Y coordinate,’ because we recognize that’s what students are taught in school. We’re demystifying what coding is.”