In Partnership with Amazon Future Engineer, Beyond Limits Academic Program Offers Free Computer Science Class to Middle School Students

Posted by: Beyond Limits

STAMFORD, Conn., March 5, 2019 — Sixth grade students Charlotte Primo and Adiel Crosby have been learning the drag and drop Scratch coding program in their technology class at Scofield Magnet Middle School in Stamford, and are excited to learn a new coding program called Python. “Scratch is fun but I like Python better,” says Primo, “because today they taught us how to use sprites to make characters and backgrounds.”  Crosby also thinks coding is fun. “I love computers and coding,” he says, “and I do Scratch at home, but today I’m learning Python, doing a basketball animation, making the basketball go into the hoop.”

Primo and Crosby are among 16 boys and girls from five Stamford middle schools enrolled in Beyond Limits Academic Program’s after-school coding class, where they will be introduced to the Python programming language, learning to write code to create static or animated graphics using sprites. In learning to develop a simple program or game, the students will discover how to combine letters, numbers and symbols using the keys on the Chromebooks provided by Beyond Limits, to create characters and make them move.  In its most basic form, the concept is similar to combining the right proportions of ingredients in a recipe, for example, to bake cookies.   

Beyond Limits Academic Program, a program of Stamford Peace Youth Foundation, Inc., is offering the free computer coding class in partnership with Amazon Future Engineer. The weekly one-hour class on the Coding with Kids platform began on Thursday, February 21, and will run for eight consecutive weeks, through Thursday, April 11, 2019.  

The class is made possible with funding from Amazon Future Engineer, a four-part comprehensive childhood-to-career program creating inspirational computer science learning opportunities for underserved and low-income youth to encourage them to someday pursue exciting and rewarding careers in computer science, through a scholarship partnership with Coding with Kids. Amazon Future Engineer focuses on computer science access for all students, and is aiming to fund hundreds of these coding programs across the country. Beyond Limits is delighted to offer the coding class through Coding with Kids, whose mission is to bring high quality coding education to as many kids as possible. 

During the eight-week class, 16 middle school boys and girls from sixth through eighth grades will be introduced to Python, an entry point to students to learn a versatile, professional-level coding language. The class will teach basic syntax to more complex concepts, such as object-oriented development.  Students just starting out with programming will also receive an introduction to the core concepts with Scratch, an easy-to-use drag-and-drop programming tool. The class is proctored by Francis Alvaro and Sydney Eben, who help guide the students and answer questions.  A 2017 graduate of Westhill High School, Francis is a computer science major in his freshman year at UCONN Stamford, and an instructor at Happy Code. A junior at Westhill, Sydney is focusing her current and future studies on computer science and engineering. 

Research shows that children who are exposed to coding at an early age are more likely to develop mathematical thinking, build stronger math skills, and are more likely to enjoy learning about math when applying concepts in a real-world context.  Many professional educators believe that all K-12 schools should provide computer science education for all students in every grade level, and that teaching math with computer programming can help make math concepts feel more relevant.  

“It’s no longer enough to learn how to use technology; it’s foundational to learn what goes into building technology, and research shows that children who start learning about computer science early are more likely to say they like it, and have confidence in their computer science abilities,” said Andy Sklover, Co-Founder of the Beyond Limits Program.

Coding with Kids’ Online Programs Director, Nora Richman couldn’t agree more. “Just one phenomenal student experience can make a world of difference in any child’s life,” said Richman.  “By having the opportunity to receive early computer science education, you guarantee a long-term impact on your child’s life skills and possibly imprint his or her future career path. Coding with Kids and Amazon Future Engineer’s partnership and combined mission made it possible for so many children across the nation to have that exposure and life changing experience. And with strong leadership and guidance from Marek Brejl, Coding with Kids Founder, we are able to achieve this mission and shape the future of coding education,” said Richman.

“This class is a natural extension of the math and science tutoring and enrichment we offer our Beyond Limits students,” said Sklover, “so we’re delighted to partner with Amazon Future Engineer and Coding with Kids, in what we hope will be the first of many computer science classes we’re able to offer students,” said Sklover.    

Beyond Limits provides math and science tutoring six days a week to approximately 175 students during the academic school year, informal mentoring, and enrichment programming.  Some of the enrichment opportunities include: financial literacy, time management, college admissions testing workshops, and summer bridge programming including, a week-long math and science program for up to 25 incoming sixth grade students; and a summer scholars program, in conjunction with Stamford High School’s Early College Studies Program, that exposes students to technology issues and applications as well as the 21st century skills needed to be successful in high school and the workplace.

For additional information about the Beyond Limits Academic Program, please visit the website at:  beyondlimitsacademics.org.  For more information about Amazon future engineer, please visit: amazonfutureengineer.com.  Coding with Kids provides K-8 curriculum through different programs (After School, Camps, and Center Classes). For additional information about Coding with kids, please visit:  codingwithkids.com.

About Beyond Limits Academic Program

Since 2013, the Beyond Limits Academic Program of Stamford Peace Youth Foundation, Inc., has provided high quality, subsidized, non-school based, peer-to-peer academic tutoring, informal mentoring, academic advocacy and enrichment opportunities to Stamford Peace student-athletes and other Stamford Public Schools students. Beyond Limits’ primary focus is on those families eligible to receive free or reduced-price school lunch. For more information, please visit the Beyond Limits website:  www.beyondlimitsacademics.org, and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About Stamford Peace Youth Foundation, Inc.

A 501(c) (3) not-for-profit corporation founded in 2008, Stamford Peace uses high-level basketball instruction, training and competition, as well as academic support, to positively influence local youth and help them achieve their full potential on and off the court. Dedicated to the philosophy that “basketball is a privilege,” we actively encourage consistent effort and achievement in children’s core responsibilities in the classroom, in the community, and at home — “Sports, Academics and Citizenship.”  Basketball is a key “hook” by which we attract and engage young people to our academic supports and informal mentoring programs, which we provide through Beyond Limits. For additional information, please visit the Stamford Peace website: www.peaceyouthct.org/, and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About Amazon Future Engineer

Launched in November, 2018, Amazon Future Engineer is a four-part childhood-to-career program intended to inspire, educate, and prepare children and young adults from underprivileged, underrepresented, and underserved communities to pursue careers in the fast-growing field of computer science. Each year, Amazon Future Engineer aims to inspire more than 10 million kids to explore computer science; provide over 100,000 young people in over 2,000 high schools access to Intro or AP Computer Science courses; award 100 students with four-year $10,000 scholarships, as well as offer guaranteed and paid Amazon internships to gain work experience. Amazon Future Engineer is part of Amazon’s $50 million investment in computer science/STEM education. In addition, Amazon Future Engineer has donated more than $10 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education across the country. Schools, administrators, and teachers interested in applying to any stage of the Amazon Future Engineer program can apply and learn more here.

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