A MEDIA AND LEARNING PARTNERSHIP
This Could Be Me is the multi-platform media and learning initiative that addresses the exponentially growing need for knowledge workers with STEM/STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Math) backgrounds — especially those with Computer Science skills — while helping to close the current tech opportunity gap, especially for the underserved, women and people of color. Our goal is to create pathways for all young people to become career and college ready: professionals prepared for the future, with the ability to solve problems, plan projects, and think critically and analytically about systems and processes – not merely memorized facts – capable of invention and design for intelligent devices and software programs whose purposes we cannot yet even imagine. Economists tell us that half of our current job positions will become obsolete over the next 25 years. Future jobs will require yet-to-bedetermined skills, but invariably include a strong background in these computational thinking approaches. It is well documented4 that young women and minorities self-select away from these fields by middle school; so it is crucial that we offer compelling access as early as possible — at least as early as 4th grade. By eighth grade, we have missed our chance. We want to inform and inspire all students to recognize the incredible job and career possibilities that await them if they come prepared – as well as appreciate the inherent excitement, beauty and joy to be experienced in these fields of endeavor. Then, we must continue to offer them access to the necessary educational opportunities at each grade level. They need role models to be able to envision pursuing these fields. Besides the economic need for more contributors and the social justice considerations, employers also realize that, without a more diverse workforce, they cannot hope to design products and services that are competitive, with widespread appeal.
THE GOALS OF This Could Be Me ARE:
1. To inspire ethnic minorities, young women, and other under-served groups to pursue computer science and related topics that involve computer science, through compelling role models presented in video format.
2. To cultivate an online community of practice, bringing together educators, researchers, students, and families, to ensure that best practices emerge through sharing of
experiences and continuous improvement.
3. To foster a national dialogue that raises awareness and builds understanding of the causal relationship between equity of opportunity and national economic competitiveness,
focusing on the careers of future, rather than the jobs of the past.
4. To become a preeminent clearinghouse for resources and tools to teach K-12 (especially grades 4-8) computer science and making, by curating the best existing materials (and
creating new materials where needed), to ensure that high quality educational experiences in this field are readily accessible to all students.
FOR KIDS: THE SHOW
This Could Be Me is a one-hour experiential broadcast (and potential series pilot), with an on-line interactive presentation, that connects kids in grades 4th through 8th with leaders in some of the really great jobs that require the use of computer science and other technical skills. This age group is the most important to target, especially for girls and children of color. Studies show that their interest peaks by middle school. This Could Be Me will be produced, filmed, and edited in a fast-paced, creative style with graphics and effects that will engage these future STEM/STEAMers. Young people themselves will be asked to volunteer their services as local videographers for some segments.
In the course of the hour, kids get to spend an entire day getting handson experience in jobs they never even dreamed they might qualify for. Everything from programming virtual reality micro-worlds to designing toys, operating autonomous vehicles, amusement parks, Broadway sets, fashion ideas, submarines, fireworks displays, video games, special effects, architecture, robotic surgery, artificial limbs, inventing new products, agriculture, food science, weather tracking, fashion, even dental check-ups (argh!)…the list goes on and on.
This Could Be Me specifically focuses on Black, Hispanic, and female kids who are dramatically under-represented in the tech world. Casting will also include kids who come from high risk backgrounds such as foster children and children with physical or mental challenges. These young people will meet role models, often with disadvantaged backgrounds similar to their own, who will motivate and inspire. This is not just to observe. These future techies get to work alongside a person whose looks or life experience are just like them, collaborating on an authentic project.