Meet Code Park Volunteer Alex!
Meet Alex, one of our Google CS First Storytelling Club volunteers. Through teaching creative workshops at Code Park, Alex empower students to solve problems in their community and encourage them to seek jobs in the growing field of science and technology. Today, she will share her story with Code Park and her journey in computer science.
How did you become involved as a volunteer with Code Park?
Code Park Houston encompasses many things I’m passionate about, including technology, education, and teaching in under-served communities. I already have experience with STEAM education through my involvement with the Indo-American Charity Foundation and AmeriCorps. Over 10 years ago I started working with under-served communities as an urban educator through University of Houston Downtown. Since my hobbies align with activities in Science, Technology, Arts, and Math education, I naturally loved teaching what I enjoyed. For instance, I loved playing with stomp rockets and measuring how high the rocket flew with my students. Last year I found the Girls Coding Club community through a mutual friend where I met Amanda Shih and Wanjun Zhang. When Wanjun found out I was a teacher, she told me, “We need more teachers, come volunteer with us.” And the rest is history. I love that Code Park is about fostering a comfortable environment for people who want to code together.
How did you first get into coding?
Throughout my childhood I spent a lot of my time keeping to myself. I spent my youth outside exploring, playing games on computers, drawing, and reading. As a teenager, I would stay out of trouble by experimenting with HTML formatting, to personalize my Myspace and Xanga sites. I could never get my favorite Feist song to match the blinding pink colors on those teenage angst blogs.
What is an interesting side project you’re working on?
One of my favorite projects is “Improving Medicine Via Computer Simulations,” a group project that was developed in Houston Hackathon 2018. Almost everyone at Code Park is involved in other meetups and hackathons, including Sketch City. When I prepared for Houston Hackathon 2018, I learned a lot about R/ R Studio programming through the workshops Code Park and Sketch City provided. In this project, I got my feet wet in the tech side of the medical field. We used different programs such as GitHub and Octave. Initially I didn’t feel ready to get back into medical research, but I never feel ready for my next move. It was kind of a sink or swim situation for me. Luckily Code Park taught me how to swim through demonstrating their kindness and grit.
I’m also working on a research project on data science and bioinformatics related to medical research and genomics.
What is your favorite classroom experience so far?
My favorite experience was my first day in the classroom teaching STEAM curriculum at Code Park Houston. It honestly felt like home to me. When I was helping students with programming their games, one student showed me her creation called “Taco Bounce.” She took an existing starter project in the Scratch learning platform and remixed it to be her own. Rather than programming a ping pong ball back and force, she remixed the project to bounce a taco! The student giggled the entire time when she showed me her new game. I appreciated her sense of humor and enthusiasm. That’s the best way to learn, with fun and exploration.