Rolling Out

Microsoft, Harlem Globetrotters partner to teach kids STEM

Coding is the new lesson for the next generation

Once again, Microsoft and the Harlem Globetrotters aggressively bring education to the community. The tech juggernaut company went to Next Play 360 in Marietta, Georgia, on March 14 to educate the youth about career paths in the tech industry.

At the event, rolling out caught up with Darrell Booker, the corporate affairs specialist within philanthropies for Microsoft.

What is Microsoft doing here today?

We’re at Next Play, an amazing nonprofit. On the surface, people think it’s just about sports and basketball. But the Henderson family here is doing so much more than that. They have a STEM lab, and they’re teaching kids all things STEM, [especially] coding and development.

We’re here today as part of our partnership with the Harlem Globetrotters, introducing the kids to Codetrotters, where they learn how to code their first video game using the Globetrotters players.

Why do you need to expose kids to this?

It’s important for us to go to where the youth is.

Our youth will only know sometimes the four or five-block radius of where they live. It’s really about access and exposure. There’s nothing within our Black youth that makes them any different to succeed [or not]; it’s just what they’re surrounded with. If they’re unable to get to the places where they can see other career pathways and learn other things, it’s really important that we bring it to them, and not only bring it to them in terms of one-time exposure, but bring the stickiness, provide those leave behinds so that the youth have a place that’s familiar to them, a place they can trust, where they can also start to chart their future, right within their neighborhood.

When’s the first time you got passionate about tech?

I got passionate about tech I want to say I think about the age of 14.

My dad came home with a computer, and while he was at work, during the summer time, I was just on a computer doing stuff with it. The fear of it not being how it was when he came home was how I taught myself to do things, commands, prompts and bangs. I’m really just self-taught real quick and I knew from there this is what I want to do.

On the flip side of this, there are people who look at the tech industry as an easy path to making a lot of money. What is your message to them?

I tell so many people this all the time about a career in tech–it’s one word you’ve got to remember: passion. Not only anything you do, but especially in tech. Tech is one of those fields that if you’re not passionate about it, you can get frustrated, you can get lost. It has to be that thing that, when your friends call you at night and say you want to go out and you say no, I’m going stay home and do this thing on the computer. You’ve found that thing you’re passionate about.

A lot of times, when I run into a young person and they say something like, “I want to do cybersecurity,” sometimes I’ll say, “Why? Are you sure that’s what you want to do? Or is that what you just heard from other people that that’s a great path to make money?” Don’t get me wrong; it is, but tech has different aspects to it. 

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