By Suzanne Vanderhoef
The Little Bit Foundation was first conceived in 2001 as a way to provide basic needs for students, such as warm coats and basics like toothbrushes and socks. But in the years since then, it has evolved into a whole-child model that now not only includes those essentials, but also health and nutrition, family and mental health support and college and career readiness. Among those new programs is something called STEM Lingo, which teaches high school students coding.
“STEM lingo is an approach a project that was started by a black female engineer to give kids like a quick dose of what it means to code and to get into STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math],” explains Miranda Walker Jones, CEO of The Little Bit Foundation. “So kind of learning the lingo of STEM, it really builds confidence within kids that they can, within a week’s time, learn how to do some basic coding.”
Now in 48 St. Louis area schools serving 14,000 kids from pre-kindergarten up through high school, Little Bit Foundation is hoping this progression will help engage even the youngest students and plant the seeds of an engagement and interest in math, science and engineering.
“At first, it was kind of confusing [to the students], says Danial Mba, Compuer Science Teacher at Jennings High School. “We’ve been working with HTML coding, so we were able to understand the functions, the tags were using and got a lot of “Aha!”moments from the students. You get this yell from the back of the room, “Oh, my God, it lit up! “Oh, he made a sound!”” That’s where the excitement is the aha moments are great.”
And, as Little Bit CEO Jones says, “We do a little bit, but it goes a long way toward building components for our future success as a whole St. Louis region.”