@gavriels1, https://www.linkedin.com/in/gavriella-schuster-6183875

Those of you who know me best know how passionate I am about education and supporting the next generation in learning about the sciences and technology. I have greatly encouraged STEM learning in my own family, and I can say as both a parent and a professional in this field, nothing beats those hands-on learning opportunities.

Through my daughter’s program, she had the chance to shadow a variety of professionals, did field experiments, and got an in-depth view of what people in the sciences actually did on a day to day basis. This insight is so important because it brings concepts to life and makes it that much more approachable to kids. School is no longer about memorizing facts and figures, you can look up almost any answers in a millisecond these days.  Now it’s about knowing how to take that information and make it useful.  It’s about applying the knowledge to solve problems and gather the insights that can move an idea forward.

It is so important for kids to have the opportunity to get involved in STEM education, the earlier the better. It’s through these subjects that students are taught to think critically, ask questions, and develop the technological skills they need to build a career later in life. Encouraging the next generation of business leaders and technological innovators by supporting their STEM education has become a top priority here for us at Microsoft, as well as for future-facing organizations like edX, Girls Who Code, and code.org that we are so proud to partner with.

I’m especially proud to be working with our CELA team to bring Code.org’s Hour of Code to Microsoft Inspire.

What is Hour of Code?

If you’re unfamiliar with the Hour of Code, let me tell you why it’s so great.

Hour of Code started as a one-hour intro to computer science that taught students the basics of coding. The grassroots campaign quickly grew into a global movement that has reached millions of students all over the world. The goal of the campaign was to give every student with the interest an opportunity to learn about computer science. And we are eager to help support that interest.

That’s why we’re bringing not one but two Hours of Code to Microsoft Inspire. Both groups of up to 50 students from Washington, D.C. schools will be hosted from 12:00 to 5:00 PM on Wednesday, July 12th in the Community Hub. They will be working with our wonderful IAMCP volunteers directly, and partners are encouraged to engage the students as part of their Microsoft Inspire experience. We will have one group of students learning to code, while the other will have a front row seat to an exclusive tour of The Commons. Sharing with them the excitement of attending a major, international technology showcase and introducing them to an array of career opportunities can make a real impact, both in their individual careers and in the culture of STEM education as well.

Beyond Hour of Code

This event is just one of many ways Microsoft and our partner community are driving STEM education and awareness. The IAMCP WIT organization regularly partners with organizations such as DigiGirlz, YouthSpark, and others. Microsoft Philanthropies provides grants to support digital inclusion and education around the world, and our Partner Philanthropy Spotlight series has regularly highlighted partners doing amazing work of their own both in their local communities and worldwide. Keep an eye out for our latest story from the Partners Doing Good program, to be showcased on the blog during the week of Microsoft Inspire.

Sharing Our Inspiration

Even within our growing community of business leaders and technological innovators, outreach and education are key. If you are a returning attendee, consider becoming a First Time Attendee mentor. Or host your own Hour of Code event in your own community. There are so many ways to do your part, the trick is just finding the one that works for you. Because no matter what your strengths or interests are, there is a student eager to learn from your experience and your passion for technology.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a first-timer to Microsoft Inspire, I look forward to seeing you there!

How do you see STEM education making a difference in the future of your business? What steps are you taking to encourage coding skills and interest in computer science? Share your thoughts in the comments below.