Hello! I’m Kristi, a teacher for at Pixar and I’m back again this week sharing the behind the scenes of our . Here’s the inside scoop on week 2.
It’s time to scratch what we’ve been doing with (pun intended) and start learning about . Python is a big jump from Scratch so today was filled with difficult lessons and fun projects like Mad Libs and creating a Text Adventure game. Today was also the first in a series of weekly lunches the students will have with their mentors. Each student is paired up with one female employee with a programming background at Pixar. Since the students were occupied during lunch, Amanda, Rhea, and I used this valuable time to meet with Erin to discuss the upcoming schedule. After lunch, Danielle Feinberg came to visit us and spoke about her Computer Science background and what she does at Pixar. Talk about a dream job! The students pulled another prank on me, and it starts to seem like this will become a daily occurrence. After that, the students worked on their projects for the rest of the day. Amanda, Rhea, and I ended the day with our weekly meeting with our site lead.
The students didn’t get all the time they needed to finish their Text Adventure project yesterday, so I started this morning by giving them some extra time. We then had a panel of women engineers at Pixar, and they answered questions the students had. It was interesting to hear each of their experiences, and also to learn some fun Pixar facts. After that, I continued the day by teaching some more complex Python concepts, including functions. In my experience, functions are a big hurdle students have to get over, and I saw a lot of struggle with it. The majority of the students finished their projects by the end of the day, but I could tell their understanding wasn’t quite deep enough. I took note of that and decided we should go over it again the next chance we get. Again my students pranked me, but this time I got them back. Two can play at this game ;)!
We did more Python today and the students created random generators of band names and Haikus. There were some hilarious combinations. Lucia Greco, a blind expert on technology, came to talk and really opened the students’ eyes to thinking about people with disabilities when designing projects.
I continued with lessons on how to read programming documentation and how to efficiently use Google. Yes, googling is a real skill programmers need to know! They practiced these skills on a project using Pygame, and some of the students finished it by the end of the day. Again, they pranked me, and again I got them back. We’re all starting to have a lot of fun with this, and we’re trying to think of new things to do.
As planned, I reviewed functions and gave students an assignment that focuses on how to utilize functions. I think this helped a lot and I believe my students now have a good understanding of functions. Before lunch, we went outside and played a game since we haven’t had many opportunities to do so this week. After lunch we got on the bus and headed over to for our first field trip. The students got to tour a startup company and see what it looks like on the inside. They were able to ask questions to a panel of employees, and I was so proud of the questions my students came up with. MemSQL was kind enough to provide food and giveaways during the trip, so of course the students loved that. They had a fun time, but we were also able to have a serious discussion on diversity in the workplace, since MemSQL has an almost all male engineering team and that is something they are aware of and want to change. By the time we got back to Pixar, it was time to go home. Amanda, Rhea, and I stayed for a little bit to clean up the classroom, reflect on how the week went, and prepare for anything we need for next week.
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