Adam Savage Meets STEAM Educators in Baltimore

While on tour, Adam Savage visited Code in the Schools, an organization with the mission to bring computer science education to Baltimore city youth. During his visit, Adam met with co-founder Gretchen LeGrand and her team of instructors, then spoke with the students about their experiences in the classroom.

Shot and edited by Joey Fameli

Comments (8)

8 thoughts on “Adam Savage Meets STEAM Educators in Baltimore

  1. Love this.

    I’m a software/web app developer. I had been volunteering in my city teaching kids computer literacy and exposing them to program. They learned parts of computer hardware (cpu, hard drives, ram, etc) and their functions, network equipment (routers, modems, etc). They also learned Scratch, the MIT developed game/animation programming studio. Then some LibreOffice Presentation (Powerpoint). At the end, they earned a computer to take home – desktop tower, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. Much of the equipment is from corporate donations but the program also accepts community donations to either give to the students or sell to a recycler (some REAL old stuff would come through).

    I think this group seems to “get it” a bit better than other organizations who want to teach code. Simply said, programming is not for everyone. Not everyone will need it or use it, but having computer literacy and some exposure to code is still important. It exposes a kid to career and hobbies they might otherwise not have found (especially in undeserved communities). It teaches them critical and logical thinking. That’s huge. It makes you think and express your intents clearly and definitively. An invaluable skill. It makes it real, tangible, and accessible. It also demystifies it which I think really helps the former points.

    I find it quite surprising that we would need to teach basic mousing skills. Left, right, double click, scroll, etc. Yet ask them to download a Top 40 song and listen to it and it’s no problem. What exposure they’ve had to computers have largely been touch. It’s pretty nuts. Because computers have advanced so much, software and OSes are far more stable. Mobile devices are far more restrictive than desktop OSes. There’s no mucking around. Learning where the “internals” of the OS are, where the files are ( what files and folders even are!!). Mobile OSes completely abstract all that way. That’s still incredible to me. It’s why you see 85 year-olds using iPads today yet 85 year-olds of 10-15 years didn’t use a computer.

    I feel that myself, a late 20s millennial and my peers were more familiar with how computers worked when we were the same age as these kids because we had to work with them in a much more hands-on and direct manner, even though the prevalence and use is by far and away to a higher degree. Not that it was entirely understood necessarily. But a “don’t open too many windows at once. It’s too much for it and it slows down” where now that stuff is handled for you (even if it is because a mobile OS won’t let you run multiple things at the same time). Unfortunately the tools to get “work” done hasn’t caught up to the abstraction like consumption software has. I don’t know how much it will or should though before you start trading flexibility and freedom for ease of use. Until it does, then I feel like it’s a bit of an uphill battle for kids. That said, kids of course can and do learn. It just takes exposure and practice.

    Exciting stuff none the less and I did not expect to write this much!

  2. i agree with a lot of the points you’re making here. i was recently baffled when i sat in a lecture hall at uni, introduction to human-computer interactions. you’d think the people who sign up for this are somehow interested in computers, have some knowledge, etc. – yet when the prof brought an old desktop machine to take apart in front of the audience, half of the attendees raised their hand when asked whether this is the first time they see the insides of a computer. to me (33), this was near incomprehensible. it took my younger sister to point out that folks today rarely even use desktop computers, but laptops at best. more common computing platforms are tablets and smartphones. so aren’t really in a place where they could be exposed to the whole situation of building your own computer from parts, installing a new OS, etc. to begin with.

    just teaching kids these basics: how do computers (in the widest sense) work, and what makes them tick – with a bit of tinkering in both hardware and software – would be a really useful thing to know for kids. i mean, we don’t expect to all be hobby mechanics who can fix our own cars, but we expect to have a basic systematic understanding of cars because they are omnipresent machines in our world. there’s both the demystifying of the things, and an ‘unlocking’ of certain modes of thinking when having to think about how stuff works, that you can then apply to other fields. both sound like something that should be a focus of education.

  3. Agree. Computers are great at problem solving because they do exactly what you tell them to do. Ran a lab for a grad level class filled with students from the GUI generation (your generation?). Lab was in c/c++ and the instructor decided to work in the unix environment and to have the students work in a terminal environment. I knew that the class would be interesting when I had to explain that they needed to hit the enter key after typing the unix command.

    The Baltimore program sounds exciting. Thanks for sharing it Adam.

  4. Promoting STEAM is great, but let’s be careful not to reproduce clichés and misunderstandings about History and Social Studies in the process. Hearing students state with confidence that it’s not that relevant to know what decision such and such President made in the past, better learn how to code and get a job… That seems like a missed teachable moment to me.

  5. Very good to see. Maybe with the backing off of Common Core we can start to bring back more vocational classes to schools. Computing, coding, should be one of those.

    At the same time, I feel the one-laptop-per-child push or the iPad program in Los Angeles were misinformed — misguided. Throwing hardware at a kid isn’t a substitute for properly educating them.

  6. Great Video. Devs are always in need plus they get paid well. Also CS is not limited to only coders there is also network, QA, automation etc… Every company even non-tech needs to get their emails right?

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