The Charleston Chronicle

Black Googlers Network Visits Charleston, Promotes Power of Computer Science, Technology

By Toby Smith


The Black Googlers Network (BGN) came to Charleston in late last month with several goals: To meet and engage the community, to demonstrate the benefits of using technology to solve social problems and to plant seeds of careers in computer science. This was the BGN’s first foray into Charleston and it was a very big deal—members flew in from across the United States and the globe—to participate.

Events were held at several downtown locations August 27-29. August 28 at the Avery Research Center was the Goodie Hack, “an intense and fast paced, two day, event” that brought together the BGN and local teams “to create technology ideas to solve problems in underserved communities.” (goodiehack.com/Charleston) (amplify4good.org)

On Saturday morning the College of Charleston’s Harborwalk buzzed with excitement and expectation. Saturday’s event, Google’s “Computer Science First,” began with breakfast. Janelyn Smith, a first grader at a local elementary school, was tickled to see the biographies and pictures of BGN members, noting one employee in particular. She’s “a pretty brown girl like me and I’m going to be smart just like her!”

The program opened with a brief slideshow on computer usage, future trends and setting up a computer coding clubs. Students were then separated by grade and walked to classrooms with their Google coordinators. Parents and adults weren’t excluded; they were exposed to a special computer coding language called “Scratch.” The first graders had a Lego design activity, completed computer games online, and completed computer related arts and crafts. Evan McCullough, a second grader, built an Air Force jet. He said: “I really like being here. I’m going to spend more time learning about what I can do on my computer.”

After the classroom activities the group reconvened for a panel session in which the BGN members shared insights on taking tougher math and science classes, not being afraid to be different and the importance of all perspectives. One panelist shared a heartfelt story about her mother’s impact and support on her life. The event wrapped up at noon. Later that evening BGN members, community leaders and elected officials attended a beautiful reception and dinner at a local Charleston restaurant. For more information about Google’s “Computer Science First” program, visit online cs-first/start-club.
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