I wanted to give a shoutout to one of my favorite “hands on” learning organizations in Macon: Real Impact Center. Real impact center focuses on helping to inspire the next generation of young ladies to consider careers as science and technology professionals. Given that women are underrepresented in STEM career fields, Real Impact has an important mission in exposing girls to STEM careers, giving them ‘hands on’ maker experiences, and helping them see that STEAM careers are cool. On April 29th, Real Impact organized the “Women in STEAM Conference” in Macon, GA serving more than 250 young ladies with inspiring speakers and hands-on learning experiences. InspiredToEducate.NET had the honor of presenting a workshop on making electronic music using code.
Stephanie Espy, the author of STEM Gems, shared an empowering message to the ladies on becoming a successful science/technology leader. Her book interviews 44 female STEM professionals and reviews patterns on their success. I love books that explore the roots of innovative and creative thinking. Her book seems to explore patterns of experiences of female STEM leaders like the roles parents play in learning, patterns in play, patterns in teaching, attitudes, and growth mindset. It was a great keynote!
Our team had a great time sharing our workshop on Sonic-Pi, making cool electronic music through code. Sonic-Pi, designed by Sam Aaron, provides a playful environment for writing techno or electronic music using simple coding patterns. While it’s a great tool to engage students in code education, it’s primary objective is to engage students in exploring music theory. It’s such a fun learning tool. During this talk, we had the opportunity to share about the makers movement, our SparkMacon Makerspace, and the fun experiences of building stuff with code. Given that we were serving girls during our workshop, I had the opportunity to share about the first computer programmer: Ada Lovelace. Many were surprised to learn that the first computer programmer was a woman. Additionally, she was one of the first to realize that computers would do more than just crunch math problems. Hundreds of years ago before electronic computers, she theorized that computers could be used for creative experiences if you could symbolize the creative problem. Since music theory provides a set of symbols and ideas for defining music, tools for creating music with computers became possible. If you think about how many creative tasks we accomplish on computers today(creating graphics, music, engineering structures, etc), this was a profound and visionary concept.
It was fun getting to share this workshop since I love music and building stuff with code. Music people and coders go through the same emotional challenges when they start. Both disciplines require practice, problem decomposition, building up of muscle memory, and social skills. Some of the best programmers I’ve known were music people. I also want to give a shout out to my friends Joey Allen and Isaiah who coached the workshop with me. They did a great job inspiring the girls. In the one hour workshop, almost everyone had the opportunity to sequence some sound samples and put them into a loop. Some of the more advanced students started building drum patterns,melodies, and longer musical forms.
If you’re interested in learning more about Sonic Pi, check out http://sonic-pi.net/, my blog post and this free ebook. Interested in teaching an extended course in Sonic-Pi? check out http://www.sonicpiliveandcoding.com/. It has lesson plans covering 10+ weeks of material.
Special thanks to Real Impact for your leadership in growing the next generation of young makers in Macon, GA! You are amazing!! If you’re interested in learning more about Real Impact Center, providing financial support or volunteering, make sure to connect with their website: http://www.realimpactcenter.com/ . They have some pretty awesome summer camps this summer!