Education


Ben's Lighthouse Tech4Good Program Pairs Reed And NHS Students

Published: February 03, 2018 at 12:00 am

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Ben's Lighthouse Program Director Rebecca Cosgrove explained on January 22 that since starting last March, the Tech4Good program at Reed Intermediate School has helped students learn about ways they can utilize technology to make a difference in the world.

The current session began in October. January 22 was the second to last day the 11-week program met, but a spring session is also planned beginning in March. As Reed students and their mentors played games like Connect 4 and talked among themselves at the start of the program on January 22, Ms Cosgrove explained students in the program learn about coding through the Scratch online computer program, while also exploring ways technology can help people.

Ms Cosgrove said the Tech4Good program is an offshoot of Ben's Lighthouse's Scratch mentor program that began about three years ago. Tech4Good, she said, strives to help students realize that they can make a difference in the world.

According to a description for the program, Tech4Good incorporates a mentor model throughout its programming so the younger students have role models, which supports healthier relationships, lifestyle choices, enhances self-esteem and self-confidence, builds interpersonal skills, and supports stronger relationships with peers, parents, and other adults.

"In addition to learning valuable coding skills, participants learn about how technology is being used to solve programs that people and children face all over the world," a description for the program reads. "They are discovering how empathy can drive action and create change. With a focus on creativity and problem-solving, activities are designed to show kids that they have the ability to use their unique gifts to make a difference in the world. Our mentors serve as top-notch role models, helping kids persevere through challenges and connect with their peers in a positive and authentic way. Both mentors and mentees [receive] the benefits of enriched social experiences and the development of community connectedness."

NHS senior Rachel Tramposch said she has been participating with Tech4Good for multiple sessions of the program, and "it is good every session." Rachel said she said she likes watching the community form, how everyone begins to get to know each other better throughout the program.

Reed fifth grade Lily Hunter said being in the Tech4Good program makes her "feel proud" that she is helping others, who may struggle to be happy, through the program.

According to Ms Cosgrove the Tech4Good students learned about ways other children have used technology to do good, like one girl who used her knowledge of coding to create an app to help people with Alzheimer's disease. The students also learned about online campaigns using technology, like an effort that Ms Cosgrove created which linked people from Facebook to Amazon to order books for children in Haiti.

"We donated over 400 books to kids in Haiti using technology," Ms Cosgrove told the students.

She also told the students that each of them have the power to use their skills or their "super powers" to make a difference in the world.

Reed fifth graders Azikiwe Osakwe and Stephen Sibley both said they enjoy attending the Tech4Good program because they get to work on computers and learn more about coding.

"It's really comforting that other people do it, too," said Azikiwe about coding.

NHS ninth grader Ryan Chieffo said he likes being a mentor in the program, because, "I just like helping out and seeing the enjoyment of kids like Stephen."

Matthew Jaeger, a junior at NHS, said he fell in love with mentoring and how it helps the younger students.

After Ms Cosgrove spoke to the students at the start of the program on January 22, the students sat at the computers in the school's Library/Media Center to work for the day. For the class project that day, the students worked in the Scratch program to make a "shout-out" message for one of their Tech4Good peers, sharing a message of how they are awesome.

People looking for more information about the Tech4Good program can contact Ms Cosgrove by e-mail at rcosgrove@benslighthouse.org or by calling 203-491-2848.

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Newtown Cultural Arts Commission is presenting or coordinating on six weeks of special events. Which event are you looking forward to the most? (Visit our Features page for a full story with details about all of these events.)

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