On Coding, Teaching, and Youth Leadership

Meet Maia, a 10th grader who's teaching coding classes all on her own.


Maia, a 10th grader, has been with Pi515 for two years. On April 28th, she successfully completed the 2022 Girls Entrepreneurship Summit alongside her younger sister, Myla. After Maia graduates high school, she plans to attend DMACC and then pursue a degree from medical school.  


When asked what drew her to Pi515’s programs, she responded that she was interested in the challenge and the chance to learn something that she could use to secure a job, start a business, and help others.  


Maia is currently helping others by facilitating Meta’s Engineer for the Week (“EFTW”) to a class of 10 middle school students.  EFTW is a program that’s targeted to middle and high school students and encourages them to develop their interests in engineering and tech. Pi515 has participated in EFTW for the past two years. We collaborate with high school and college interns to deliver the program materials to students in Des Moines middle schools.


Maia has taken up the challenge of leading a class all on her own at her local church. Inspired by the opportunities she found with Pi515, she wanted to extend opportunities to as many young people as possible. Her class provides students with a positive environment to be freely creative and to make mistakes and learn from them. The experience will also improve her teaching and leadership skills. 


For the most part, Maia hasn’t found the experience challenging. “The only challenges I have had have been students not following directions,” she reported.


She’s found the most surprising change to be in the students’ attitudes once they began to learn the material. “At first, a lot of them didn’t really see the point of learning to code,” she said, “but after they actually started, most of them really seem to enjoy it now.” In addition to engineering, students learn to work together and communicate with their classmates and to be willing to ask for help. 


Students like Maia who serve as mentors and role models for younger students are instrumental in helping to bridge the gap between younger students interested in tech and college students who graduate with degrees in the field. 


The future of work is rapidly changing and young adults must be prepared to meet its demands. This means creating a vibrant, passionate, and digitally-literate workforce. A gap is growing between kids that are interested in STEM and young adults who pursue careers in the field.  


Our programs aim to bridge that gap. EFTW and educational programs for high school students keep students interested in tech until they graduate college and enter the workforce. Strengthening this pipeline is key to keep tech jobs and the subsequent revenue in Iowa and the U.S.

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