Road Trip to Inspire Natives to Take Computer Science Classes

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown September 7th, 2015 Last Updated on: September 7th, 2015

Via Facebook

Via Facebook

This project sounds exciting for all minority and underrepresented youth in the technology fields! Roadtrip Nation and Microsoft YouthSpark are sending three young adults on a month-long journey across the nation, and one of them is Native!

Code Trip, a reality show airing on PBS next year, will showcase each of these three students unique backgrounds, and have them interview leaders in computer science industry as well as gain the exposure and insights into a variety of career paths incorporating technology. The Code Trip road trip will start in Costa Mesa, California with stops along the way between San Francisco and New York.

Roadtrip Nation opted to focus on computer science due to the pressing need facing students in the United States for greater access to technology education. Computer science is the driving force behind developments and discoveries in business, medicine, creativity, and community building. Yet in school, few young people have exposure to the field—particularly young girls, minority youth, and youth from low-income and rural communities. According to the 2014 Taulbee Survey done by the Computing Research Association, of all computer science degrees awarded during the 2013-2014 school year, only 14.7 percent were awarded to women, 7.7 percent to Hispanics and 4.1 percent to African-Americans.

YouthSpark, a global initiative from Microsoft to empower young people through computer science education, brought industry knowledge and resources to source mentors and learning opportunities for the students throughout their trip.

“Roadtrip Nation is proud to partner with Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative not only to inform others of the many career routes one can take with a computer science background, but also to engage in the much-needed conversation of diversifying the tech field with more pluralistic perspectives,” said Mike Marriner, Cofounder of Roadtrip Nation.

“Through Roadtrip Nation, these three young people will get exposure to some of the greatest minds in tech and will showcase the potential anyone has to become an innovator and driver of growth and opportunity in their community by learning not only how to use technology, but also how to create technology,” said Yvonne Thomas, director of the YouthSpark initiative at Microsoft Corp. “We are excited for the road-trippers to see the unique career opportunities computer science offers.”

Here's a short interview with Robin Maxkii, one of the students on the trip:

Robin Maxkii can make a lot out of very little. Her resourceful nature derives from her upbringing in a small Native American tribe. Access to technology was limited, but she always found a way to wheedle the system, like when she overrode the time restraints on public computers in the 4th grade. Later, she built her own computer when she couldn’t afford one. Now Robin enjoys coding and blogging about Native American culture. Pursuing a tech career has been challenging, with many peers viewing her as an outsider, but she expects this trip will show the world, and herself, that the face of computer science is far more eclectic than most realize.

We'll definitely be watching this when it comes out next year! The show is scheduled to air Fall 2016 on public television stations across the country. Check your local listings for more information. Code Trip is sponsored by Microsoft YouthSpark. To follow along on the trip visit http://roadtripnation.com/engage/code-trip and don't forget to follow @RoadtripNation, @MSYouthSpark, and the hashtag #CodeTrip on Twitter!

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About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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