(Photo by Jason Tashea)
Baltimore-based Code in the Schools had a lot to celebrate this weekend. On Saturday the education nonprofit hosted an Opening Night celebration to both thank its supporters and show off a brand-new location at The Center in Baltimore’s Station North Arts District.
For the uninitiated, Code in the Schools has been around for the last two-and-a-half years teaching school-aged youth in Baltimore city about coding, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and 3D printing.
The group’s rapid growth was one reason for celebration. Code in the Schools executive director Gretchen LeGrand talked about where the organization has come from in such a short time. Its first class was in April 2013, when Code in the Schools was just two instructors and 20 students at one location. By March 2015, they had 11 instructors in 20 locations teaching 1,500 students.
In the new office space this weekend were numerous local students demonstrating the websites they had made during Code in the Schools’ summer programs.
On hand as a guest speaker was Councilman Nick Mosby. Mosby not only heaped praise on Code in the Schools’ success, but also opined on the need for more STEM education. He believes the goal of STEM education is to turn kids “from operators of technology to developers of technology.” With a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, he speaks from experience.
Mosby thinks that teaching a kid to code is more than just opening up a door to a new career. Mosby says that better STEM education could help overcome Baltimore’s grinding poverty.
In regards to growing Baltimore’s economy, the event was also a ribbon cutting of sorts for The Center, Code in the Schools’ new location. An $18 million project run by Jubilee Development, a nonprofit developer, turned the 67,000-square-foot vacant theater on North Avenue into a new creative space. Beyond housing Code in the Schools and its subleasee, game developer Sparkypants, the Center will also house 200 jewelry makers, the film programs at Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute College of Art, and a collaborative work space for nonprofits that serve Baltimore.
The Center is a part of a larger renaissance of maker spaces in the neighborhood. BARCO, another regional developer, has invested in the Motor House, also on North Avenue, and Open Works in the Station North area. Collectively these and other projects hope to cultivate a stronger and more vibrant creative and tech economy in Baltimore.-30-
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