49ers EDU and 42 Silicon Valley: A Dream Team Partnership
49ers EDU and 42 Silicon Valley have created an innovative and robust sports coding camp with a focus on football and data science. Students programmed in Python using football statistics. The camp content was based on 42’s paradigm-changing approach to computer science education, with a particular focus on how CS and football intertwine. Students got a chance to engage with the 49ers EDU STEAM program that leverages the lens of football for learning.
Starting Monday, August 13th, we kicked off the week-long free summer 49ers-themed Python coding camp with around 75 students ages 9 to 19 and 15 42 Silicon Valley students who volunteered as mentors. The camp was hosted at 42’s campus in Fremont, and it ended on Friday with a field trip to the 49ers museum and Levi’s Stadium to engage with 49ers staff and the 49ers EDU STEAM curriculum. The exciting behind the scenes experience of the stadium included a tour through the interactive museum, and access to areas of the stadium closed off to the public. Kwame Yamgnane, Co-founder and Managing Director of 42, and Jesse Lovejoy, Director of 49ers EDU and Managing Partner of EDU Academy, handed out certificates to the students in Levi’s stadium. This was a great end to an exciting new program with 49ers EDU. Students didn’t just learn how to code, we also taught students the skills they need to gain confidence.
Students enjoyed a week of project-based learning, where they learned through structured projects and challenges. An educator on the 49ers EDU team shared, “Beginner students worked through an intro to Python curriculum while intermediate student worked through a four-part data science curriculum written. Following these tutorials, the students first used web scraping to download the 49ers team roster from their website and padded it with additional data that we queried from MySportsFeeds, a game-tracking API. The students then used Python graphing libraries to find plot the players’ hometowns and colleges on a map of the US and to compare the BMI distribution of professional athletes versus the positions they play. Some of our advanced students went on to show their additional uses of these tools in our end-of-session showcase! We saw a web scraper to download women’s Olympic Swimming records; a guessing game to test your ability to match the 49ers player to his hometown, and a bar chart showing the win-loss distribution for each NFL team’s Super Bowl games during the last four years.” Participants also got to experience 42’s peer-to-peer correction process, which is based on learning from each other, defending one’s own code, and analyzing others’ work. And last but not least, our curriculum is based on gamification which consists of levels, points, and a built-in motivation system. And during some downtime, students created some amazing and fun post-it artwork.
Students Discover That Coding Is Not Only Fun but Can Also Change Lives
We asked some of the kids about their experience with 49ers EDU sports coding camp, and this is what they shared with us:
Maggie, 12: “I joined because my parents told me that Python was a really useful tool to learn that will really help my future. It’s been challenging but it’s also really fun. I am interested in a career in data science. I like how when you write code it immediately makes something more.”
Sanjana, 14: “I thought Python is something you should know how to do because it’s a good skill. I took a class, but I didn’t enjoy it and thought this would be a good experience. It’s been really fun, I actually enjoy coming here, I want to come early and leave late. It has been interesting and invigorating.”
Skye, 18: “It all started when Shanna came to our school and did a 42 presentation. I wasn’t interested in computer programming, but she told us how it changes people’s lives, so that inspired me to check it out. So far the environment is really rich, there is a lot of diversity here, I feel like I am fitting in. I took a robotics class before but unfortunately, I had to switch out of it because it was too difficult for me, so a career involving coding never came to mind. I am interested in data science now, I want to see how far I can go and what I can do. I would recommend it to people who want a second chance but at the same time want to try something new.”
Elijah, 18: “I kind of wanted to join after learning about 42 from Shanna, it showed me there are a lot of opportunities out there I didn’t know about that can be helpful to my future. I feel like going here can help me get ahead. I like it, I like it a lot. I feel like the environment is very open. I like the interaction with my peers, unlike a teacher telling me what to do. I am interested in data science, I like the fast pace, I like having to solve problems, and coding is one big problem that needs to be solved. I would recommend it to friends who will take it seriously, and they would have to be open to a new environment. A lot of my friends wouldn’t be used to something like this, they would need to be open to doing something new.”
We even had a father and son who were participating in a 42 piscine and the 49ers EDU camp at the same time. Jun Xu was completing the last week of his piscine while son, Wenhao Xu, was in the 49ers EDU camp. This is what they shared about their story:
Jun, 47: “We studied at home by ourselves, but our skills increased by only a little. My brother’s friend told us if you can survive 42 Silicon Valley you can increase your computer skills. If the cost is high, it isn’t affordable and 42 silicon valley is no cost. When I entered the school I found that it is difficult for me, a lot of my classmates give up quickly, but I still persist. In the past few weeks, I was here 14 hours a day. If I get in, I will continue here.”
Wenhao, 13: “My dad told me about the 49ers EDU camp, it has been pretty good because the environment here is good. I had been working alone at home and that was boring. I want to be a programmer in the future, I am interested in robotics. I knew python before coming here, but here at 42 they have better tasks to do, and the mentors you can ask if you are stuck on a question. At home, you can’t get over some problems.”
42 Mentors: Supporting Students While they explore coding
We couldn’t do this without the support of the 42 students who volunteer their time to serve as mentors. It’s a great experience for mentors to switch roles from student to mentor and help someone else learn how to code. Here are some thoughts on their experiences:
Poitier, 21: “It’s been really cool, I have met a lot of kids with different backgrounds and it’s been great to see them learning and embracing new things. It’s nice seeing kids who haven’t been exposed before doing this because it shows anyone can learn anything.”
Reb, 23: “I like working with kids and it seemed like a fun opportunity to get them excited about coding. It has been a really great experience and I think I have learned a lot about how to motivate and engage with young kids.”
Nataly, 22: “It’s a nice opportunity to see how the whole 42 pedagogy works with the kids. I thought it would be a good opportunity to solidify my knowledge because when you are teaching someone it is a good way to know you are actually learning. It has been amazing, I learned a lot from them as well. Some of them have prior experience with coding, it is a two-way street and we are learning from them.”
Jeson, 20: “Not everyone has the fundamentals of Python and it is overwhelming information. It is like being asked to sprint a 1000 meter race, you need to jump so quickly. But you look back and see that you got to do this fun stuff that is at a junior college level.”
Pedro, 19: I wanted to be a mentor because I like helping kids, guiding them towards the right path and helping them realize the opportunity they have. Also, the ones that are coding and struggling a little bit and want to follow this path, I want to motivate them to continue following that path. It’s been a great opportunity to meet some really smart people and to help those who are struggling.”
49ers Edu and 42 Silicon Valley: Looking Forward to the Future
Kai Drumm, 42’s Academic Program Coordinator, shared, “We are honored to have had the opportunity with the 49ers EDU organization. The mentors, staff, and students all enjoyed the field trip to Levi’s Stadium, it added a change of scenery and a feeling of motivation to our entire experience. We look forward to future collaborations and building more football-themed curriculum.”
Not only were the staff, students, and mentors at 42 Silicon Valley overjoyed with this exciting new experience, but we got some great feedback from the 49ers EDU team as well. “It was a wonderful thing to see football and computer science come together for young coders’ enrichment in the classroom and beyond,” said Jesse Lovejoy, Director of 49ers EDU and Managing Partner of EDU Academy. “At 49ers EDU, we always want to bring to the table fun, innovative approaches to STEAM learning, and we’re very proud to have worked alongside 42 Silicon Valley to execute a completely unique experience for Bay Area students. We look forward to our continued work with Kwame and his team to underscore the connection between sports and learning.”