Skills for the 21st Century

Capital One Coders Makes STEM Learning Fun

“I just created something that I never knew I could create!” exclaimed a middle school student who just got her app working for the first time. This sums up the excitement of hundreds of middle school students around the country who embarked on a 10-week journey to learn software development skills in a fun and engaging environment.

Culminating in the creation of their own mobile apps, the journey also gave students a better understanding of software engineering principles, problem solving skills, and a few important life lessons, like that there are such things as bugs in software.

Originally launched at 10 schools in 5 communities in the fall of 2014, Capital One Coders now operates in 10 cities, has served more than 50 schools and community partners, and has impacted more than 8,500 students. In partnership with public schools and other youth-serving nonprofits, the program helps middle school students develop a greater interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) during a critical period in their development. Through the 10-week program, Capital One associate volunteers teach students in schools across the country about problem solving, teamwork and the basic principles of software development and coding in a fun and engaging environment.

Students learn how to develop apps for mobile devices, while growing computational thinking skills like algorithms, abstraction, decomposition, pattern recognition, and generalization, instead of focusing on a specific programming language or syntax. And the most exciting part is the students create working mobile apps that they can share with their friends and family.

Student-generated apps have included everything from Nutri-Tron – an app that allows users to input their food allergies and scan the barcodes of food packages to see if they contain the allergen, to Impulse Racer – a racing game where users pick a car and compete against other users to see who can complete the course the fastest. “I’m really appreciative [of Capital One Coders] for coming and giving us this really good chance to learn new skills and have fun and meet different people”, said one of the students after seeing his app come to life.

As an added bonus, all participants in the 10-week program get to take home a new Chromebook or Android tablet to continue their digital journey.

Since Capital One Coders started in Summer 2014, thousands of students and hundreds of Capital One associates have participated. Here are a few statistics:

  • # of semesters the program has been offered: 110
  • # of students impacted by the program: 8500+
  • # of Chromebooks given away to students: 2500
  • # of cities participating: 9 (Chicago, Dallas, New York City, Richmond, St. Cloud, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, Wilmington)

As a site lead for our Capital One Coders program, I’ve been fortunate to be in a position to empower local middle school children by exposing them to technology through partnering with schools and community leaders to foster an early focus in software engineering. I was moved and impressed to see how many Capital One associates stepped up and volunteered to be mentors to these kids and how excited they are to participate in future activities. It reminded me that Capital One is full of incredible people that care beyond themselves and really do want to engage and develop the communities around them. — Shaun Webb, Master Software Engineer