In early October, St. Marker Connor Browder, a current VI Former from Greenwich, Conn., visited the Christa McCauliffe Charter School in Framingham to initiate a program to help with STEM education, particularly in the field of computer coding and engineering. Browder is taking the lead as part of St. Mark's SMCODE club, utilizing a Class of 1968 Fellowship Grant.
The Class of 1968 established the annual Fellowship Grants at their 25th reunion in 1993. It provides funds to enable St. Markers to have opportunities to participate in a fellowship program or independent project the summer before graduation. The members of the Class of 1968 review the proposals and make the award decisions. As part of the program, each grant recipient must share the outcomes of their projects with the St. Mark's community during the fall. This program helped Connor to develop an educational outreach program for SMCODE.
SMCODE is a student organization whose goal is to foster and educate adolescent students in computer programming and STEM. Students from St. Marks and from surrounding schools have the ability to learn about STEM with responsive feedback from local SM Students through the courses on the SMCODE website.
"The Class of 1968 Fellowship Grant awarded last year has allowed SMCODE to leave our niched community and travel to surrounding schools," says Browder. "We help and instruct teachers and classes of approximately 20 students in how to use LEGO robots and educational Kano computers, which we donate to the school after each session to create a long-lasting impact." While still in development, the SMCODE website (https://smcodetest.herokuapp.com/) will be a resource for schools' STEM curriculum efforts.
At Framingham's Christa McCauliffe Charter School, Browder presented a computer science class with a kano computer kit, which allows students to build their own computer and to learn to code. He also spent time with the students introducing them to the two LEGO Mindstorm robot kits he brought with him, along with materials from the Blue Suitcase Project..
"Connor has taken great initiative over the past two years to get the SMCODE site up and running," says St. Mark's computer science teacher Christopher Roche. "The project is still in a Beta phase, but Connor with the help of a number of other students, notably Luc Cote, have been pursuing a dream to take the CS teachings from the SM classroom and beyond and bring those lessons out to a world of hungry learners. SMCODE seeks to be a hub of programming help and ideas – Do you need help with a particular coding program? Do you want to learn programming techniques in Java, C++ and Ruby? Are you curious about AI and machine learning? Then SMCODE is for you!"