iCode, an after-school and weekend program that offers science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) education to students in first through 12th grade, celebrated its one year anniversary on Friday, May 20th, with a graduation ceremony and night of fun to commemorate iCode’s growth over the past year. Twenty students ranging in age from 8 to 14, walked across the “graduation stage” and helped celebrate iCode’s one-year milestone!
We are thrilled to celebrate iCode’s first birthday and the tremendous growth that has taken place over the past year,” said Dr. Mauricio Vásquez, director of iCode. “We have a team of incredible staff and mentors who work hard every day to bring the excitement of STEAM to students, and we look forward to the continued success of both our organization and stellar students in our program.”
iCode launched on April 27, 2015 and has since had three graduation ceremonies, hosted a number of Friday “happy hours” with notable speakers like Quotient (formerly Coupons.com) CFO Jennifer Ceran and most recently hosted its first-ever hackathon with more than 200 participants at AT&T in downtown Dallas.
At the anniversary celebration, students put their engineering skills to the test with the “Marshmallow Challenge,” that encouraged students to design the highest tower out of marshmallows and toothpicks. Students also wrote out goals they hope to accomplish in the coming year at iCode in addition to what they believe will be the next “up-and-coming” technology of the future. Students placed their completed notecards inside a time capsule safe before walking across the graduation stage. The capsule will remain locked until 2017.
Similar to martial arts, iCode students’ mastery of each level in the program is represented by the color of their “belt,” or in this case, lanyards. An outstanding group of 20 “future engineers” traded in their white and orange lanyards for yellow and red, respectively. Instead of moving a graduation tassel, the students earned their new colored lanyards, representing the next level in the program.
iCode students wrapped up the evening with a raffle for free summer camp classes and a very special iCode cake, in honor of the organization’s first birthday. For many of the students, iCode is their first step on their STEAM journey where careers are in high demand, but students historically show little interest.
According to the National Math and Science Initiative, 2014, of the 15 major study categories, engineering has the highest median earnings, yet fewer than 20 percent of students choose a STEM path. When it comes to computer science, the stats are even lower. In fact, computer programming jobs are growing at two-times the national average, but fewer than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science. iCode seeks to fill that gap.