CodeArt, Miami, FL
When I was not working directly with students, my efforts at CodeArt were focused on organizing our file system and event planning strategies. For three years, CodeArt has been a small non-profit held up by a few dedicated members, but it is time to expand if we hope to reach young minds on a national scale. Most of my time was spent reading over three years’ worth of agendas, meeting notes, and lists for event improvement in order to compile all necessary tasks and deadlines into a yearly calendar that anyone from an unpaid intern to the administrative director could follow. This massive calendar is paired with a monthly summary of the tasks at hand to further necessitate time management for future employees of CodeArt. Tasks would be categorized based on their purpose for the organization such as finances, outreach, and legal. The calendar is meant for 1-3 events interns that would be expected to plan our annual art symposium and programming competition, CodeArt Miami (CAM) which is to be held this year on March 3, 2019. Then, tasks are reset and the calendar can be re-used for future events and as administrative guidelines. CodeArt Miami is packed with interactive booths, raffles, silent auction items, student art, and motivating guest speakers. An event of this size and complexity can be overwhelming to plan, so I hoped to ease the process by creating a dynamic and portable planning tool. Also, the portability of the planning guidelines could pave the way for possible events in other locations such as CodeArt Orlando or CodeArt Boston.
Next, our original files were saved without any particular organization method, so I needed to restructure our lesson database and planning folders to ease the access of important documents such as our media release forms. I renamed every file and created a site map that turned out to be useful for not only our own administrative work but also our company website. My work was able to optimize CodeArt’s time efficiency and overall communication, which will prove beneficial once we have multiple offices all over the state and hopefully the country.
Finally, the overwhelming amount of community support that CodeArt earned over the years helped us win a south Florida grant of $25,000 from United Way that will fund our charity events, workshops, and community expansions. To celebrate this award, United Way and CodeArt teamed up to create a mural for the space that hosted most of the start-up work for CodeArt at Pinecrest Library. The design for the mural was based on the first place winner of our south Florida self-portrait competition, but it was remade as pixel art in order to divide work among the 80 volunteers that signed up to help CodeArt and United Way. My main task for this volunteer event was to lead children activities and design the mural. Each pixel of my design would be a small painted wooden square that matched a color on a pre-marked piece of plywood that would serve as the base for the mural. The volunteers enjoyed the paint-by-numbers feel that the pixelated style gave to the project, which also made things run very smoothly at the benefit of both the United Way and CodeArt event planners. While the adults worked on creating a frame and painting squares, I taught some of our younger volunteers how to convert between binary and decimal numbers so that we could use an American Standard Code for Information Interchange Table (ASCII Table) to create our initials in binary with beads. Students would write down their initials, decimal equivalents, and chosen bead colors for 1 and 0. Then, they would learn how to go from their decimal equivalents to a real binary number. Soon enough the activity became open for everyone as curious parents watched their kids barrel through arithmetic in order to create a fun and colorful binary beaded keychain. Our collaboration with United Way was definitely a highlight for CodeArt this summer!
CodeArt started as a fundraising idea for my local Girls Who Code club, and I have had the same passionate people working with me for three years now. One of my mentors for the summer, Lisa Hauser, actually graduated from Williams in 1996. They all started out as community volunteers or teachers that wanted to help bridge the gender gap in Computer Science, but now they are my board of directors, mentors, and friends. All of my academic and field achievements would not have been possible without their endless support. Furthermore, I would like to thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Class of 1974 for giving me this opportunity to focus my full time and energy into an organization and community I care so much about. When I first received my acceptance letter from Williams, I had learned to accept a smaller role in CodeArt because of my physical absence from south Florida, but this internship has proven to me that my education at Williams does not have to come at the expense CodeArt.
This summer was more than just an internship; it was a glimpse into a possible career path that could provide me with fulfilling work and change the lives of hundreds if not thousands of students. It is no secret that gender diversity in technology related fields is a challenge, especially in the United States. But, my work in CodeArt has proved to me that I can make a difference and bring more dedicated and passionate individuals into a field that is a part of everyday life. My summer work has also highlighted the importance of self-expression and culture within our society. Our emphasis on STEM education does not mean we have to sacrifice the subjects that make us human. And in today’s society, we could all use a little reminder of our humanity.