MIT Scratch Team and Progressive Arts Alliance Bring Together Hip-Hop and Coding

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Educators and librarians from around the country are headed to Cleveland this week to immerse themselves in a two-day Hip-Hop and Scratch Coding Summit hosted by the Scratch Team from the MIT Media Lab and Progressive Arts Alliance. The first of its kind, the summit will bring together a diverse group of people who lead programs for young people to learn about creative pathways into computing.

The summit hopes to broaden perspectives and participation in coding from traditionally underrepresented groups by providing interest-based pathways to computing.

We see coding as a new type of literacy, a new way for everyone to express their ideas - Mitchel Resnick, Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab

Educators and librarians from around the country are headed to Cleveland this week to immerse themselves in a two-day Hip-Hop and Scratch Coding Summit hosted by the Scratch Team from the MIT Media Lab and Progressive Arts Alliance. The first of its kind, the summit will bring together a diverse group of people who lead programs for young people to learn about creative pathways into computing. Participants will learn how to code their own hip-hop dance animations using Scratch, a visual programming language designed for children, ages 8 to 16.

"We see coding as a new type of literacy, a new way for everyone to express their ideas," said Mitchel Resnick, Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab and director of the Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten research group. "Progressive Arts Alliance is a perfect partner, since they have a long history of engaging a diverse range of young people in creative expression."

The summit, taking place Oct. 21 and 22, is part of “Coding for All,” a National Science Foundation-funded initiative that is developing new online tools and activities to empower young people from underrepresented groups to express themselves with coding.

"The initiative has the potential to broaden perspectives and participation in coding to include youth from groups who have been traditionally underrepresented in computer science and related fields,” said Natalie Rusk, an educational researcher and learning lead for MIT's Scratch Team. “We have seen how youth who become engaged in learning to program their own interactive games and animations expand their vision of their own potential and increase interest in career opportunities that allow them to design and code.”

Progressive Arts Alliance, “Coding for All” partner since 2014, has been improving the way teachers teach and students learn core subjects through the use of art and media. Its RHAPSODY Hip-Hop Summer Arts Camp is a nationally-recognized arts education initiative that builds students’ 21st century skills in collaboration, leadership, and problem solving through rigorous workshops in music, art, poetry and dance.

“For more than 15 years we have been committed to giving educators valuable methodologies to engage students with the arts and deepen their students’ understanding of core subjects,” said Santina Protopapa, executive director, Progressive Arts Alliance. “We are honored to be hosting this summit in Cleveland in partnership with the Scratch Team to educate and engage educators from across the country about the dynamic relationship between dancing, coding, and computational thinking.”

Plans for the summit include hands-on activities that will engage participants in dance instruction and computer programming. Participants will create their own interactive dance animations while learning best practices for engaging youth in their communities using the resources the Scratch Team and Progressive Arts Alliance have developed. Summit attendees will also provide other interest-based pathways to engage students in coding—from skateboarding to public service.

“This initiative challenges the idea that coding is only relevant and accessible for a narrow group of people,” said Eric Schilling, project manager for Scratch Online Community. “We’re thrilled that the summit participants will go home ready to engage a broader range of young people in coding projects that express their ideas and connect with their interests.”

Insights and key learnings from the summit will be shared via social media with the hashtag #hiphopcoding:
Progressive Arts Alliance Twitter: twitter.com/progressivearts
Scratch Twitter: twitter.com/scratch
Scratch Facebook: facebook.com/scratchteam
Scratch Instagram: instagram.com/mitscratchteam

About Progressive Arts Alliance
Since 2002, Progressive Arts Alliance (PAA) has been innovating how students are taught 21st century skills through contemporary arts and media. PAA operates as an arts-integration lab - constantly iterating, learning and evolving to deliver the most relevant programs for the needs of students, teachers, artists, and the community. PAA’s staff and artist-educators create and deliver customized, project-based learning programs and real-time professional development training that respond to current educational trends and priorities, such as STEM, the Maker Movement and social emotional learning.

About Scratch
With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations and share your creations with others in an online community. Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively essential skills for the 21st century. Since the initial launch of Scratch, young people (ages 8 and up) have shared more than 16 million projects on the Scratch website, with more than 22,000 new projects added every day. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group, led by Mitchel Resnick at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge at scratch.mit.edu.

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Santina Protopapa

Julie Conrad
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