Philadelphia High School sophomore Charmaine Manzano said creating a phone app with other students was an experience to remember.
Manzano took part this month in the 4th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Advanced STEM Winter Program along with about 100 students from 12 schools across Mississippi.
“Learning how to code and connect things to make apps was the part I remembered the most during the program,” Manzano said. “It was a great experience considering I’ve never had any coding experience in my life. It was a lot of fun.”
Students took part in creating the app to make movies at the STEM program. Grace Easley, a junior at Philadelphia said this was by far the best part of the program.
"Getting to learn how to make things like apps was really interesting," Easley said. "The app we made was an app that showed how to make movies. It was fun and a good way to prepare for our AP tests."
Each year, Global Teaching Project holds an instructional program over the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend to study the link between civil rights and educational opportunity.
Academic sessions were held at four universities around the state, including Jackson State University, Delta State University, The University of Mississippi, and Mississippi State University - Meridian Campus. There were 13 college-student STEM major tutors from around the country attending. The Philadelphia students went to Meridian.
Students from Deana Cumberland’s AP Computer Science Principles class and Cristy Creel’s AP Physics class took part in the program.
Manzano is part of Cumberland’s computer science principles class.
Cumberland, a business and technology teacher, said her students enjoyed getting to meet other students in the same field at the STEM program earlier this month and understood what they were working with.
“The program was geared to give them information and to start thinking about their AP tests,” Cumberland said. “They have to create and send a functional app to the AP college board to be graded and get college credit. There are certain criteria they have to meet, so being at this event gave them some important experience.”
Cumberland said the STEM program provided a unique opportunity to collaborate with students from other districts around Mississippi and interact with individuals within computer science occupations. She said this allowed her students to broaden their understanding and content knowledge that will assist them as they further their education and prepare to enter the workforce.
“The tutors were so interactive with my students, and they told me afterward that they understood the material,” Cumberland said. “I was impressed since this event is for 10th and 11th graders and taking on something like this is phenomenal since they hadn’t had any coding experience before this. It is nothing more rewarding, as a teacher, to see the expression on your students' faces as they say, ‘I really get it, I understand what I am doing and why I am learning this!’”
Cumberland said the program kicked off on Friday at school where her students had a tutor majoring in computer science from the University of Virginia teaching them how to create apps.
“Friday night, we got on Zoom and met with Mrs. Velma Wilson, and she spoke to my students about Martin Luther King and her experience,” Cumberland said.
“She told them about the work MLK had done and encouraged them to finish their education. On Saturday, we went to the Mississippi State University Meridian branch, and my students collaborated with other students there. We had tutors from Yale and other prestigious schools teaching about computer science. They enjoyed that, especially creating the apps and grasping what they could do.”
Christy Creel, a math and science teacher at Philadelphia High, also attended the STEM program with her AP physics class. She said her favorite part was seeing that students can see other AP students out there and what they’re working on.
“Although AP physics is difficult, it’s good for them to interact with students working on the same things as them,” Creel said. “We got to do a lot of hands-on things and learned some great things virtually. My students were excited to meet other students from across Mississippi who were studying the same concepts.”
Creel said her students took part in some fun activities.
“We all enjoyed physically being there and doing these experiments, especially making the applications,” Creel said. “It was also great seeing tutors there from schools like Yale and the University of Virginia.”