Stepping in to help students at Paul Duke STEM High School in Norcross, Georgia work on their coding: Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Ciara. Yesterday, the Atlanta native checked in on the high school students participating in a music remix competition using Python coding language.
“Coding is really the way,” Ciara told CNN. “What I’ve learned through my experiences with Amazon, in particular in this program, is that it’s now almost in some places a requirement to get a job.”
Ciara and Amazon have teamed up through Amazon’s Future Engineer program, “a comprehensive childhood-to-career program aimed at increasing access to computer science education for children and young adults from underserved and underrepresented communities.”
Also on tap through Amazon’s Future Engineer program is a Coding with Kids component, a computer science academy — held through after-school programs and summer camps — that’s available for kids ages five to 16. Participants learn a plethora of coding skills, tackling everything from Scratch to Python and Java. The Future Engineer program also offers computer science and robotics classes for high schools. Scholarships and internships are also available.
And then there’s the Ciara Remix Competition, which teaches students how to write code that makes music, is a collaboration between Amazon’s Future Engineer program and Georgia Tech’s EarSketch, a “learn to code by making music” platform.
The challenge for students: composing a remix of Ciara’s song “SET.” At the ready to critique the work of students at Paul Duke STEM High School wasn’t just their teacher, Philip Peavy, but Ciara herself. The musician listened to remixes and shared input.
Weighing in on the importance of learning to code was Ken Knight, vice president of Amazon’s Global Delivery Services and a Georgia Tech alum. Stats Knight shared: Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 1.4 million computer science-related jobs will be available next year with only 400,000 computer science graduates equipped for those jobs.
Getting kids interested in coding is wise, Knight told CNN. “This is about providing kids with resources and skills and building upon those throughout their entire time in high school. It prepares them for the future so they can build their best future.”
What winners of the Ciara Remix competition stand to win: three grand prize winners will travel to Seattle for a VIP “Amazon Future Engineer for a day” experience and will demo their song for Amazon Music. The top 10 winners will receive a PreSonus Audiobox 96 Studio and an invitation to Georgia Tech’s Guthman Musical Instrument Competition in March 2020. The top 100 winners will pocket a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
And then there were those lucky Paul Duke STEM High School students who had the opportunity for Ciara to hear their work firsthand.
“Everything that everyone played back to me felt good and sounded good,” Ciara told CNN. “And I’m just still blown away that they’re actually coding to make the music speak back to them a certain way. That to me is really cool and very special.
Ciara’s message to the students, “When you walk into a room, you have an extra level of cool by adding coding. You automatically level up your game.”