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Guest Blog: Allenbrook educator and coach of “The Swarm,” Ms. Artrice Johnson

During the 2017-18 school year, thanks to a generous gift from Google Fiber, Digi-Bridge was able to grow The Swarm at Allenbrook Elementary School – a competition programming and robotics squad that’s currently serving thirty scholars. As we head into the end of the academic year, Ms. Johnson, educator and coach, shares her reflections.

When I share my narrative as an educator with people and I mention that I am Robotics coach, many ask, “How did you get into that?” Being asked about the beginning of my ventures in Robotics always helps to remind that no matter how long one has been teaching, there is always room to grow and learn.

Last school year, I joined Allenbrook’s Robotics squad as a way to engage one particular student. She wanted to join the team, but was also interested in joining the step team. Her concern, besides the conflict of schedules of the two teams, was that some of the other students may have thought that she was “not cool”or a “nerd” if they knew she was in Robotics. There were also no other brown girls, to her knowledge, that were joining the Robotics team. Of course, I strongly encouraged her to join despite her fears, but things went a step further when I found out from the facilitator, Torie Leslie, that the squad was in need of another coach and a teacher from the school would be ideal.

I pondered if this was something that I could do – of course my creative abilities had been out to use with Legos before, but I had never built a robot in my life and I didn’t know much about computer programming beyond the very basics! As I faced my own fears of the unknown, I could imagine my student’s face and was also reminded of her fears. I told my student that I was going to join the Robotics team as well, and I shared my concerns with her; I told her that I had never done anything like this and I was worried that I wouldn’t be that a good of a coach, BUT I was willing to give it a try and learn alongside her and the rest of the scholars.

Needless to say, we had a very successful season. We all gained a plethora of knowledge and shared experiences such as competing in the First Lego League Robotics Competition, and attending a Hornets basketball game with the honor of walking on court to receive recognition during half-time. Overall, the most valuable experience was watching the scholars work together as a team and building off of each other’s strengths to be a successful group.

As we are flowing through Robotics this school at year Allenbrook, I can see some of those same characteristics as last year’s group – students are working together in order to build each other up based off their own strengths. For instance, students have been working in pairs – one partner who may find building to be a strength, and one who is more comfortable with coding. From my perspective, this helps all scholars to feel accomplished with tasks that may seem daunting to the other, but all the while they are still learning from each other.

Arrow on Ms. Johnson – a group picture from competition in 2017

Without the gracious gifts from Google Fiber, Allenbrook’s Robotics Club would be nonexistent and our scholars would not have such special opportunities to explore new skills and abilities. We all continue to gain knowledge as a group, and we all are also facing fears of the unknown. Without a doubt we are “swarming” misbeliefs, discomfort, and fears with pride, bravery, and teamwork!

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It’s time for a Daddy Daughter Code-In! Tickets on sale now.

Friends of Digi-Bridge-

It’s with great enthusiasm that I share news of our expanded partnership with Google Fiber Charlotte. This year, in addition to sponsoring The Swarm, our competition programming and robotics team, Google Fiber is the presenting sponsor for four Code-In events!

This first Daddy Daughter Code-In (#DDCodeIn) of 2018 will be held at the Google Fiber Event Space from 7 pm-8:30 pm on Saturday, June 2nd. We will have fun in (and with) the sun. If you’ve attended a Code-In before, expect more of the same great STEAM experiences with a few really AWESOME new additions. Of course, there will be cotton candy.

Only 35 duo tickets available, so snag your tickets today

While we are making progress to ensure women are represented in STEM, a 2017 jobs report reminded us of just how much work needs to be done. We learned that while women fill 47 percent of all U.S. jobs, they only hold about 24 percent of STEM jobs. Likewise, women constitute slightly more than half of college educated workers but make up only 25 percent of college educated STEM workers.

It is stifling statistics like these that Digi-Bridge intends to shift not only to support females, but also to stimulate technology growth on a universal level.

Digi-Bridge is excited to host this community event at Google Fiber’s home here in Charlotte. This evening is an opportunity for young ladies and the important men in their lives (fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, grandfathers, role models, etc.) to connect and explore technology.

Much like a traditional “Daddy Daughter” dance, the Code-In will be an event filled with food, music and fresh tech-centric activities. Digi-Bridge knows that girls code, too, and looks forward to supporting and encouraging the next generation of female leaders in STEM.

Looking forward to seeing dads and daughters on June 2! That link once more is www.digi-bridge.org/events.

Cheers,

DJ

Please know, Digi-Bridge aims to remove all barriers to access. If financial assistance is needed, simply reach out to Torie@digi-bridge.org.

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Guest Blog: Ashley Park 8th Grader Treshawn Pickett

In 2017, Digi-Bridge forged a partnership with Opera Carolina, thanks to support from OrthoCarolina. Together, we developed a Digi-Bin series that goes “Behind the Scenes” to explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) connections in opera. 

At the conclusion of the series, scholars attended their first opera performance, The Marriage of Figaro. Below, read reflections from Treshawn, an 8th grade #STEAMSaturdays scholar at Ashley Park PreK-8. 

Before visiting the opera I honestly thought it would be people randomly singing. I also thought it was going to be boring and hard to understand. I was actually impressed that it was very different than what I expected.

During #STEAMSaturdays at Ashley Park, we began diving into some Digi-Bins that had to do with music production. We worked on bins such as costume design, lighting, acting and even production setup. My favorite bins were the costume design and lighting. I could really identify what we were learning to what I want to do in my career. I want to be a fashion designer so it was cool to see how colors and costumes set the mood for different scenes and atmospheres.

The storyline for “The Marriage of Figaro” itself was so interesting. I would have never imagined that I could gather a story from just music and singers. Now that I know more about the opera scenes and what goes on behind stage, I can see myself using this in real life.

It’s really inspiring to see how I can use my love for fashion in so many different ways. I loved

seeing how makeup, costumes, and lighting played such a huge role in the opera and keeps the audience engaged. Those characters with different dresses and more bling were more regal.

I learned that there are so many jobs that go into creating a musical production, and I can put myself in multiple positions from just seeing one opera. I cannot wait to see another one!

Thank you to my teachers, Ms. Hobson and Ms. Newton, for getting us there on time. Thank you Opera Carolina and OrthoCarolina for the opportunity to go behind the scenes!

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Spring into #STEAMSaturdays!

Friends of Digi-Bridge-

I hope this message finds all of you well! Though the weather wouldn’t agree, Digi-Bridge has already sprung into action with Spring #STEAMSaturdays. Courses are currently underway at  Hygge Coworking in West Charlotte and Northpointe Offices in Huntersville.

We have seats available at both locations on March 17 and 24 from 9-10:30am. Remember, there is no prior building or programming knowledge required. Each scholar has the opportunity to begin each course at their learning level.

March 17th – Emphasis on Coding – Scholars will build and program a pulling robot to complete a challenging task.

March 24th – Building and Coding – Scholars will build and program a wireless car and perfect the programming to successfully complete an obstacle course.

Register your scholar today at digi-bridge.org/courses for only $25. Together, we will #ReachOurFuture by creating innovators!

Cheers,

DJ

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2018 Winter #STEAMSaturdays – Programming and Robotics

Friends of Digi-Bridge,

Happy New Year!

Starting on Saturday, January 20th, our #STEAMSaturdays return to Hygge Coworking in West Charlotte and Northpointe Offices in Huntersville. Back by popular demand, this winter’s series will feature LEGO WeDo 1.0 building and coding. Torie Leslie, our Chief Academic Officer says, “We built this series to provide flexibility for scholars who love to build and design with LEGOs and for programmers who enjoy using Scratch to code challenges and adventures for their robot designs.”

Take a look at our course offerings:

Jan. 20th – Building and Coding – Scholars will choose a LEGO design, build it according to blueprint instructions and use Scratch to program it to move.

Jan. 27th – Emphasis on Coding– Scholars will choose a pre-built LEGO robot and use Scratch to program the robot to move and create a scene to match the build.

Feb. 3rd – Emphasis on Building – Scholars will use LEGO WeDo motors and hubs to design a programmable robot.

Feb. 10th – Emphasis on Coding – Scholars will choose a pre-built LEGO WeDo robot and program the tilt and motion sensors, using Scratch, to automate robot movement.

Feb. 17th – Building and Coding – Scholars will choose a LEGO design or create a LEGO design and use Scratch to program it to move.

Remember, there is no prior building or programming knowledge required. Each scholar has the opportunity to begin each course at their learning level.

In addition, every course will have time allotted for work in our coding portal, in which your K-8 scholar will be introduced to a variety of object-oriented computer programming languages. The personalized learning platform allows individuals to move at their own pace, making this course valuable for learners of all levels.

The series will run for five consecutive Saturdays, from January 20th to February 17th, at 9am and will run for 90 minutes each. Click here to register your scholar for courses at whichever location is most convenient for your family. Don’t forget to tell a friend!

We look forward to exploring the world of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics with your scholar soon.

Here’s to a new year filled with learning!

Cheers,

DJ

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2,068 in 2017: we will #ReachOurFuture!

Friends,

That’s right, thanks to the support of our community we served 2,068 scholars with hands-on 21st century learning in 2017!

We at Digi-Bridge are grateful to look back on 2017 as a year of significant progress towards bridging the digital divide.

This year, Digi-Bridge has:

  • Grown our #STEAMSaturdays family by adding two more sites – Briarwood Academy and Montclaire Elementary
  • Hosted four community Code-In events with the help of Google Fiber, including our first ever #FamilyCodeIn
  • Surpassed our fundraising goals with two different giving campaigns – #ActivateSummer and #GivingTuesdayCLT
  • Launched our second successful Robotics Squad programming, this time at Renaissance West Community Initiative
  • Renewed our commitment to computer science education for all students (#CSForAll)
  • Created new educational partnerships with other passionate organizations, including Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture, Freedom School Partners, Cabarrus County Libraries, Opera Carolina and Brookstone Schools

We’ve made tremendous progress this year and look forward to continuing this work in 2018!

How can you help us Reach Our Future?

  • Head to digi-bridge.org/reach-our-future to learn more
  • Click here to join our mailing list
  • Follow us on all social media at @DigiBridgeUS to stay updated

Tonight, 2,068 scholars in Charlotte are going to sleep with newfound knowledge and skill thanks to you! Together, we will #ReachOurFuture.

With tremendous gratitude,

DJ

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You made #GivingTuesdayCLT a huge success!

Friends,

Wow! We at Digi-Bridge are blown away by the support from our community during #GivingTuesdayCLT. We raised $10,214, exceeding our goal! Here’s how that breaks down:

  • $6714 in individual gifts
    • Including $1915 in gifts made as a part of a three year commitment to Reach Our Future
  • $2500 as a match committed by Tresata
  • $1000 as a match committed by OrthoCarolina Foundation

As a reminder, these funds go directly to providing 21st century learning opportunities to Charlotte’s K-8 scholars in the form of hands-on STEAM learning, robotics and computer programming.

If you were unable to give yesterday, know that we’re still eager to engage you! The Reach Our Future campaign, which aims to raise $1M in a year to keep these opportunities available to our scholars for the next three years, will run until next November. You can learn more and make your gift here.

Thank you for your commitment to Digi-Bridge on Giving Tuesday. Now, let’s Reach Our Future!

With gratitude,

DJ

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Double your impact today: #GivingTuesdayCLT

Friends,

Great news! It’s Nov. 28, which means it’s your turn to be a part of the biggest giving day that Charlotte has ever seen! Giving Tuesday is the annual global day of giving everyone is talking about, and the Queen City is taking it by storm.

Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesdayCLT is a day for the Charlotte community – families, businesses, students and others – to come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Be a part of the Giving Tuesday CLT movement!

Digi-Bridge’s goal is to raise $10,000 towards our Reach Our Future campaign, a yearlong goal to raise $1M that will allow us to serve 1000 Charlotte-Mecklenburg scholars per year for the next three years with hands-on, 21st century learning opportunities. This campaign is about offering high-quality programming to all scholars in our community and strengthening our voice in rooms where policies are made. And we can’t do it without you.

Our friends at Tresata and OrthoCarolina Foundation have stepped up to ensure that your gift goes further, but today is the last chance for your gift to be doubled! We hope that you will consider making a three-year commitment, as the scholars in this community are our scholars, and investing in them is investing in a future we all share.

We would love to have you join us on this journey. You can make your gift at bit.ly/FutureDB.

Let’s #ReachOurFuture!

With tremendous gratitude,

DJ

 

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How can you help Reach Our Future during #GivingTuesdayCLT?

Friends,

Digi-Bridge is proud to team up with 230+ other Charlotte nonprofits for the 2017 #GivingTuesdayCLT campaign.

Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesdayCLT is a day for the Charlotte community – families, businesses, students and others – to come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Digi-Bridge’s goal is to raise $10,000 towards our Reach Our Future campaign, a yearlong initiative that will allow us to serve 1000 Charlotte-Mecklenburg scholars per year for the next three years with hands-on, 21st century learning opportunities.

We are excited to announce that both Tresata and OrthoCarolina Foundation have stepped up to ensure that your gift goes further! The organizations will be matching your gifts throughout the campaign. In the coming days, you’ll learn more about their gifts and how you can maximize your impact.

During #GivingTuesdayCLT, we hope that you will consider making a three-year commitment to help us continue to serve 21st century learners in Charlotte.

You can help Reach Our Future at bit.ly/FutureDB. Together, we will bridge the divide!

 

With gratitude,

DJ

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Our First Code-In for the Whole Family!

Friends,

You asked. Digi-Bridge listened. Our team is very excited to invite each of you to our first ever Family Code-In! Together with Google Fiber, we are hosting a Code-In event for the whole family on Saturday, December 2nd, from 7-8:30 p.m., complete with music, food, a photo booth and STEAM challenges that will engage the whole family.

Fundamentally, the purpose of the Code-Ins has always been to create a support system around scholars and their interest in STEAM. The K-8 years are vital in growing and maintaining our scholars’ interest in these disciplines that are shaping our collective futures.

At this Code-In, we’ll be taking on a LEGO bridge-building challenge, creating animations with Scratch coding and building three-dimensional, symmetrical snowflakes.

We know that scholars engage – and stay engaged – when they’re inspired, supported, challenged and having fun. That’s what this #FamilyCodeIn is all about: not just building bridges or snowflakes, but building a lifetime of curiosity and learning.

Tickets are $10 per person and families of four or more pay $40. If you have any questions, please email zach@digi-bridge.org.

Come join us on Saturday, December 2nd for a family night out where creativity and code collide!

We can’t wait to see what you create together.

Cheers!

DJ