UW News

April 20, 2000

Making life compute: Volunteers spend weekends helping minority students learn computing skills at the University of Washington

Volunteers with Black Data Processing Associates and minority students from five local high schools and two middle schools.

Computer skills sessions focusing on Web page design, programming and computing, leading to two Jeopardy-style competitions among school teams.

The last class session is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The middle school competition is April 29, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the high school competition is May 13, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The class session and both competitions will be at 134 Sieg Hall on the University of Washington campus.

Since January, volunteers with Black Data Processing Associates, a national non-profit organization, have been meeting with local high school and middle school students, providing them with a forum in which to nurture computer skills. The students are designing Web pages, programming in VISUAL BASIC, learning various hardware and software applications and gaining in-depth knowledge about the history of computing. Progress has often been remarkable, says Ann Robinson, founder of the local BDPA chapter.

“Some of these middle school students can help you build a site,” Robinson said. “They have the ability, but some come from circumstances in which they don’t have the resources or equipment to develop that ability and schools lack what they need.”

The main thrust of the program is to teach students technology in a diverse environment that nurtures teamwork, creativity and analytical skills in preparation for college.

A total of 47 students from Garfield, Ballard, Roosevelt, Ingram and Rainier Beach high schools and Meany and Washington middle schools are participating. The UW Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement program (MESA) are partners in the project.


For more information, contact Robinson at (425) 580-3492 or ann.robinson@atts.com. For more information about BDPA, check on the Web at www.bdpa.org.