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Mission Bit, a non-profit that teaches programming skills to middle and high schoolers in San Francisco, is teaming up with Hack Reactor for an exciting new partnership. As of June 2, three Mission Bit students are interning at Hack Reactor for one month, sitting in on lectures and working on coding projects.
Started by Hack Reactor grad Tyson Daugherty, Mission Bit is a nonprofit that offers coding classes to middle and high schoolers in public school. They taught 68 students in four classes this Spring, and will expand up to ten classes in the Fall.
“The most important part of Mission Bit is that it offers free coding classes to kids who might not have it at their high school,” says Isaac, one of the three Mission Bit students interning at Hack Reactor. Though Isaac’s school offers Computer Science classes, he notes that Mission Bit “goes further than what we have at our school.”
That Isaac's school offers Computer Science courses makes him lucky among San Francisco students.
"At the end of the Spring 2014 semester, only 5 of the 17 public high schools in San Francisco offered any type of CS class within the bell schedule," says Daugherty. "For middle schools, I am only aware of two schools in San Francisco offering CS classes. If this were the late 1990's, this reality might be understandable, but today it is unacceptable, or at least should be."
Much like Hack Reactor offers an education not readily available in most college Computer Science programs, Mission Bit provides a course not easily found in middle and high schools.
Isaac, and his two co-interns, Gisela and Dulce, will work on real projects, such as creating a Health Initiative Leader Board or Social Media Conglomerator. They were selected for their combination of coding skill, motivation and ability to quickly grasp new material. All three have a natural affinity for coding.
“I like puzzles,” says Dulce. “I’m into Rubik’s cubes, and that kind of thing. I find coding is another puzzle.”
“Coding is not busy work,” Gisela explains. “It’s a lot of thinking. It takes problem solving skills.”
“You can imagine something in your head and then put it in front of you,” Isaac adds.
Daugherty came up with the idea for Mission Bit while he was a student at Hack Reactor, and the culture and approach of Hack Reactor is reflected in Mission Bit:
"Hack Reactor created an environment for me to transform myself," Daugherty explains. "This is fundamentally different than the idea that Hack Reactor transformed me. Mission Bit's approach to creating a learning environment founded on practical skill development yet designed to responsively catalyze personalized student learning is highly influenced by my experience at Hack Reactor and starkly contrasted to the more linear prescriptive teaching methodology our students experience in the public schools."
Now the influence and support Daugherty received from Hack Reactor has come full circle, with the launch of the internship program.
In addition to instruction and project work, the interns will receive mentoring from Hack Reactor staff on equally important “soft skills,” such as accountability, autonomy and professional skills.
For all three, the internship is well-timed. Gisela will start her senior year of high school in the fall. The internship is sure to a big plus on the coming slew of college applications. Isaac will start at UC Santa Cruz this fall with plans to major in Computer Science, and Dulce is off to a CS major at Sonoma.
“I hope to be a game developer or go into security,” Dulce notes.
This partnership will extend the goal of both Hack Reactor and Mission Bit of providing personalized, high quality, education that can be used immediately in the real world to students who might otherwise be hard-pressed to find it.
“I’m super excited to be at Hack Reactor,” says Isaac. “I’m ready to learn as much as I can.”