Public voting in the the 2020 My LA2050 Grants Challenge has been postponed until Monday, July 13, 2020.
Check out the finalists!
“What are the coordinates of where we're moving to?”
The teacher's question is met with a flurry of raised hands. He picks a student to answer, she gets it right, and the class moves into independent working time. One student is levels ahead, already unlocking the tougher coding challenges beyond the first five “training wheels” exercises. Another two students point out mistakes in each other's coding and move forward together. The sound of furious typing is punctuated by the occasional “Ohh” and “Yes!” as things click into place.
These students are 5th graders and already learning how to write code.
Coding is complex work, so the design of 9 Dots' Computer Science (CS) pathway prepares students for the difficulty of simplifying their work – an easily under-estimated process that requires high-level analytical and problem-solving skills. From the way 9 Dots plans their curriculum to work like building blocks to the gamified interface they created to support both students and teachers, their focus on cultivating a truly engaging classroom environment is what makes their impact on the next generation so significant.
3rd and 4th graders begin their coding journey by navigating a graphical interface that familiarizes them with the structure and syntax of programming. By the time they enter a 5th grade classroom, many become quickly proficient in typing out their own code, with several even applying and broadening this knowledge on their own through an after-school robotics club.
While being fluent in programming languages is undeniably a useful skill for the future, a 9 Dots classroom emphasizes the multiple useful skills one picks up when learning how to code. The classroom is quiet as students troubleshoot their own work, double-checking their code for spelling errors. With all their focus and attention to detail, it was impossible to tell that they had just come back from recess.
Much of this environment is carefully cultivated by the teacher who hands laptops out ten minutes before recess so students can play with the 9 Dots interface. Details like adding a robot icon to the instruction page and using shapes and colors to visualize the functions they're coding keeps the interface intuitive for students. It also eases their transition into a math class where they might recognize why coordinates are necessary to plot a graph. On the back-end, teachers are able to track the progress of students in real-time and assist those stuck on an easier level who are hesitant to ask for help.
As you leave the classroom you notice a poster hangs on the wall reminding students that they can use CS as a superpower for art, sustainability, social justice, and more, it's not at all difficult to feel hopeful at our glimpse of the future.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. We continue to be inspired by our grantees who are adapting, innovating, and championing their missions more than ever during this time.
Defy Ventures has paused its in-prison programs due to the California Department of Corrections restrictions on visitors at this time, but Defy's staff hasn't skipped a beat. The team has been able to connect with participants to continue with the EIT (“Entrepreneur-in-Training") curriculum, and has shifted to virtual meetings for post-release and community programs. In addition, they're starting virtual book clubs and launching a letter-writing campaign so that volunteers and post-release EITs can send words of encouragement to in-prison EITs.
Rise reallocated a small portion of its project budget to provide immediate shelter to 40 local college students living in their car or on the streets. The goal: to use the time in a temporary facility to find permanent housing for these students. Rise has also continued its work with local college student organizers, shifting from in-person to digital advocacy methods.
Rock the Vote moved its Census “Create-a-thon" to an innovative digital gathering. Fortunately, the “Create-a-thon" was all about expressing creativity through the use of digital tools and platforms. The kick-off and award ceremonies were conducted virtually while a Slack workspace was created so that participants and event organizers could share resources, announcements, and questions about the Census in real time.
The Street Vendor Coalition responded swiftly to alleviate the negative economic impact of COVID-19 on local micro-businesses and their workers. The coalition created the Street Vendor Emergency Fund to raise the money needed to provide $400 in direct cash assistance to vendors who are unable to access government assistance.
The Youth Movement Against Alzheimer's coordinated an alternative to its in-home caregiving model given concerns around older adults and COVID-19. The program, “E-Meal," will combat isolation by setting up virtual dinner meetings via phone or video to connect YMAA's volunteers with older adults. Not only does E-Meal encourage social interaction, but it also gives older adults a venue to express their need for resources.
The Natural History Museum has closed its local museums and paused all in-person programming. But NHM's Community Science team is accustomed to using creative, mobile methods to encourage Angelenos to explore nature on their own. One example: the upcoming 2020 City Nature Challenge, an international effort to mobilize people to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe using their own smartphones and cameras.
826LA is continuing to provide its free tutoring, writing workshops, and support services to students, teachers, and families both online and over the phone. 826LA was motivated to make the shift to virtual methods in part because of the team's belief that storytelling can be a powerful tool in difficult times. See 826LA's digital resource hub for families here.
Harlem Lacrosse adapted proactively to the challenges faced by students, families, and teachers due to COVID-19. Program Directors served as “Resource Catalysts" to disseminate information from schools about virtual learning, meal distribution, and more. Meanwhile, the Leadership Team created virtual platforms and streamlined curricula to continue delivering academic support, athletic training, and social-emotional learning virtually. Some activities: live workouts, lacrosse jeopardy games, and an age-appropriate discussion on the coronavirus.
9 Dots has designed new remote learning options for its Get Coding and Academy students and will be offering webinar lessons to a full grade level at a time. 9 Dots is also launching this year's CS Education Heroes awards as a virtual campaign by soliciting videos from the community about why CS education and teachers are so important.
One thing we're really thankful for during this time is the truly wide variety of content that's available online to keep our spirits up and our minds open. We've put together 8 of our top picks that we're excited to share!
Looking for ways to stay engaged while self-isolating? Check out some of the resources we've come across that can help you live, learn, play, connect, and create from the great indoors.
For more resources in response to COVID-19, check out our article compiling all the local resources we're aware of.
If you know of other resources, please submit them through this form.
Children and Youth Specific (0-17):
The following is a directory of local resources to assist Angelenos during the COVID-19 crisis. If you know of others,
please submit them through this form.
Note: LA2050 is not coordinating the efforts on these lists. We are compiling and amplifying the resources sent to us. Please confirm with organizations that the resources or services are active.
OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP:
RESOURCES AND SERVICES:
"SAFER AT HOME":
LOS ANGELES CITY AND COUNTY RESOURCES AND GUIDELINES: