Funding Friday: Young Women Teaching Coding To Others
First of all, I’d like to say that I have a number of connections to this project that I am highlighting today. The young women who are behind this project are the same ones I mentioned at the tail end of the talk I posted last saturday. I have been inspired by these young women and their teacher since I met them at the Annual CS Fair a few years ago. And in this project, they are “modeling our curriculum and teaching practices on NYC’s Computer Science initiative (CS4ALL)”, which is a project that I helped start and am leading the fundraising effort for. So this project is very close to home and heart for me.
OK, on to the project. This summer six young women will travel to Mendoza Argentina to teach coding curriculum to teachers and students in an effort to get computer science classes into the schools in Mendoza.
Here is a video that explains the project:
This morning I helped launch their GoFundMe campaign with a $5000 donation. Their goal is to raise $15,600 to fund their summer trip to Mendoza. Hopefully some members of the AVC community will join me in backing this project on GoFundMe and help them make this trip a reality.
Wow! Animated, happy, confident, apparently cooperative, etc. — good for them. They look surprisingly good, not stressed out, pressured, in doubt.I suspect they are more into the teamwork of the project than the technology. Whatever their balance of interests and motivations, now they are getting a trip to Argentina!! Wow. Then, whatever they learn or do about computing narrowly, they will get some practice in project organization, cooperation, teamwork, seeing how some women in Argentina, likely about their age, are similar or different. Maybe one of the results of their trip would be a formulation of the differences/similarities and why.They don’t show signs of a duck out of water reticence and awkwardness that I’ve nearly universally seen with girls and women in anything at all technical. Curious.I didn’t get up early but was up all night writing macros — got several working. The macro setup is such that the writing is fun — i.e., have lots of good string manipulation functions. I suspect that those women would be able to do or quickly learn to do such work. Maybe with some good materials, they could make good progress writing SQL.Gee, what is the situation for women of that age doing computing in Argentina?My project has me write macros just now, but macro writing, and SQL query writing, are not at all central to the value or potential of the project, more like the necessary dish washing in a high end restaurant — necessary but very far from what makes the restaurant good.To generalize, I am unsure just what future, payoff, there is or might be, for those young women from the computing they able to do at their age, in their environment, etc. More generally, at their ages or any age, I suspect that practical computing is rapidly on the way to being as common and no more rewarding than dish washing, and any value — and I believe there is potential value — is elsewhere.Or, by analogy a high end restaurant needs dish washing, but washing dishes is next to useless to see how to win in the high end restaurant business.In particular, an HTML front end to a little server side business logic and some SQL code has for some years been regarded as work about as routine as dish washing.One path to more value is some math — in this sense, I’d encourage them to do more with math than computing, regarding the computing as too routine to be very promising of significant, lasting value.There should be more, many more, good directions that can build on, exploit, computing than just math; maybe a good goal for their efforts would be to outline what some of those directions would be, in one or both of NYC/Argentina. Maybe some people deep in the canyons of NYC working against whatever challenges they are encountering would have some ideas of good directions.Net, I’d suggest that on their TODO list they try to address where the heck computing is going in general and might go for them.
You may want to check your assumptions, pull out your card and fund these young women. There are women who are definitely technically strong. Sabrina Pasterski is an MIT graduate and doing her Harvard PhD. Harvard has called her the “next Einstein.”https://www.youtube.com/wat…There is also Urmila Mahadev, a graduate student at UC Berkeley, who has solved a hard quantum verification problem:* https://www.quantamagazine….
Good for them.I’ve seen bright women. As the AVC community knows well, I married one — for six years, starting in elementary school, she played piano to accompany school operettas, played clarinet in the band, sang in the choir, won spelling bees, won prizes in cooking, sewing, raising chickens, was high school Valedictorian, in college made exactly one B, from a freshman English TA, graduated Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, was an NSF Fellow and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and got her Ph.D. in mathematical sociology. Our group in AI at IBM’s Watson lab wrote the AI language KnowledgeTool. She did nicely well with it after two lessons of about 15 minutes each from me.But it didn’t work: There was a flaw that was much of the basis of her successes but was also fatal.I like physics, and after my startup is successful I will return to it. But a large consensus is that physics is stuck — the standard model answers all the questions we know how to answer. Getting more data for more answers has proven to be tough.For being “another Einstein”, (A) lots of people have understood general relativity apparently as well as Einstein but (B) the progress of the standard model has been made and there has been surprisingly little progress since then. It’s fair to say that there’s not much new data to permit “another Einstein”. Still, after my startup, I’ll try physics, but I’ll fund the work myself and would not suggest that a young person try that.As those women try to make progress in academics, they will find that making money enough to buy a house and support a family, especially near Berkeley or MIT, on just the one academic salary is tough and will likely need getting some quite juicy research grants and, likely, managing lots of grad students. If want to get money to fund research, then, as for James Simons, the business world is more promising than theacademic world.My view is that an academic career is in just two words “financially irresponsible”.More generally, the academic honors given to students don’t mean much, not even in academics. Instead, except for the money from research grants, what academics cares about are just three things, research, research, and research. Starting in grad school, any student who does publishable research gets a lot of freedom. E.g., for a Ph.D., the key requirement is just the research; coursework is NOT sufficient, and given good research the requirement for coursework is from not much down to literally zero. For those women Twain Twain mentioned, in academics, the honors as a student don’t mean much — what counts is the research, e.g., the woman who got some results in quantum computing.My post didn’t question the basic abilities of those young women but questioned the career promise of just computing: Again, computing and only computing is like dish washing: If want to run a great restaurant, then will also need to do some dish washing, but learning to wash dishes is next to irrelevant to what one would need to learn to run a great restaurant.For the two young women in the video in Fred’s post, I thought I made it clear I was impressed they didn’t look all driven, stressed out, nerdy, obsessed, etc., trying to please Daddy who really wished he’d gone to MIT himself and wanted a son to do that — common situation.But even for MIT, what matters is not the MIT courses a student does well in [the courses are supposed to be educational, not filters, challenges for a student to prove their worth, or competitions like the Olympics; the last such course I was in was a disaster for nearly all the students; from what I’d taught myself from long before the course, effortlessly, sadly I blew away all the other students, some of whom were good, and that victory amounted to no more than nothing] takes but the research, from whatever studies or work, the student does, at MIT or some university in India, Asia, Europe, or Tennessee. The real work is in the published papers and what might follow from those and NOT in the academic transcript.I thought I made it clear I thought those women were doing well, even if their efforts in computing never do much for them.Or, Fred is all fired up about CS4All. Okay, but for those young women, EE4All, ME4All, Music4All, Math4All, Microbiology4All, etc. should be about as good, especially if in that work they made good use of computing as a tool!Or, again, once have victory getting past the documentation, commonly awful or missing, practical computing itself, although maybe not the applications, is a surprisingly simple subject, one I’m sure those bright young women can do easily enough! Uh, getting good enough at violin to play in a good orchestra is harder, for concert master, e.g., the violin part in Ein Heldenleben, a LOT harder!
Great project. Bravo. Done.
Who run the world?! Definitely going to fund :o)
Done! Looks like a great project
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“Linda Kozlowski” just backed it. I wonder if that’s the retired actress?
How fantastic! I did tech diligence on a deal in Colombia just last Nov and am really pleased to see folks outside of the US building awesome software.Donating.
I am from Argentina and this is a great project! I will get in touch with them to help with their trip