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Westwood Students Launch YouthComputing Social Profit

Westwood Students Launch YouthComputing Social Profit

Their passion reflects in their eyes, and words. Meet the fabulous five student leaders who founded the YouthComputing (YC) social profit at Westwood Community High School.

Dhvani Patel, Dhruv Patel, Radha Maradiya, Riya Mangukia, and Param Bambhania, all in grade 11 - came together to find the group in September inspired by Westwood’s Youth Coders Club, which started last year. And, on Saturday, November 26, YC is hosting their first free event, “A View into Computer Science and Robotics,” for grades five and six at Westwood Community High School.

                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                 L-R: Param Bambhania, Dhvani Patel, Dhruv Patel, Riya Mangukia, and Radha Maradiya

“We founded the group, because we know there are students of all ages who find computer science intimidating, and hard to pursue. They see this weird language and don’t understand it, but that’s the wrong image of computer science. We want to host big events, and have an impact on the community,” explains Dhvani Patel, co-founder of YC, who made District headlines last year after scoring 74 out of 75 on the Canadian Computing Competition, receiving the second highest mark in Canada.

“When you see the applications for computer science and robotics, and see it solve real life problems, you understand it. That’s what we want to help youth with, because there is a gap with resources and programs. We start small with the basic blocks, and applications,” continued Dhvani.

With a vision to “become a widespread computer science and STEM education organization that reaches youth across Alberta,” the group is now visiting elementary schools for demonstrations on coding, programming, and more.

“Materials and elements for Robotics and computer science to help youth are resources missing, and we want to give youth the opportunities,” adds Dhruv Patel, YC, Co-President.

Speaking of opportunities, their upcoming conference will focus on exploring microprocessing, Vex Robotics with racing challenges, and 3D printing and modelling. It starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at noon.

“We are inviting grades five and six and their parents to attend. Following an introduction of computer science, we’ll break up into workshops featuring Robotics with racing and prizes. They’ll also get to interact with the 3D printer. We eventually plan to build up to grades seven and eight,” continued Dhvani.

“Plus, we want them to develop a passion for computer science early on,” adds Radha Maradiya, who is YC’s marketing director.

And, with this in mind, the group has already visited Walter and Gladys Hill Public school volunteering to share their passion for computer science.

“We introduced them to computer science and how they could apply it to real life situations. During four workshops we introduced them to Robotics, Apps, and Coding, and how it’s really not challenging, but comfortable,” noted Riya Mangukia, who is the financial advisor for the group.

Radha believes both girls on the board are breaking stereotypes about gender and coding.

“It’s not gender-limiting. Coding is an equal territory for girls and boys, and we want to promote it among girls too. We are role models for elementary school girls,” noted Radha.

“I’m proud to be on this team. Women are under-represented in STEM, and this breaks barriers,” Riya added.

For Param Bambhania, joining the group meant giving every student in every school the opportunity to get to know computer science.

“Students don’t really understand the power and future of computer science. The awareness needs to be there,” Param said.

Said El Mejdani, Computer Science teacher at Westwood Community High School is proud of his students for starting the organization.

“When they came to me to talk about their idea to create a computer science and STEM education organization that reaches youth across Alberta, I was delighted. It is great to see them work locally, but think globally. When kids have big dreams, along with amazing potential and solid skills - we can change the world,” El Mejdani enthused.

Jessica Roy, Principal, Westwood Community High School, agrees.

“The Westwood YouthComputing group recognizes that being able to use technology, especially coding, is incredibly beneficial to all students.  Many current as well as future job opportunities involve coding and being able to be creative with technology. The amazing thing about this group is that it’s essentially student driven and organized.  Although Mr. Said and Mr. Vaughan are there to assist, it is really the imagination and determination of the students that drives the group. We are so proud to have these young leaders at Westwood and will continue to support them in their endeavours,” she enthused.

Finally, YC wished to thank the Fort McMurray Public School District and Westwood for the ongoing support.

“FMPSD is always so helpful. We also want to thank Mr. Said and Mr. Vaughn for always supporting us, and Westwood’s been amazing in helping with resources, and school visits. We want to inspire the future, promote the power of computer science and innovation, and educate the leaders of tomorrow,” said Dhvani.

For more information about YC, visit http://www.youthcomputing.ml.