Newhouse gets up-close look at students’ work in technology
Students participating in a variety of projects had a chance to show their progress and skills in front of an important visitor at Quincy High School on Oct. 26. U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse listened to students talk about computers, technology and other subjects, surrounded by Microsoft instructors and executives, civic leaders and QHS teachers.
One group of students that presented in front of Newhouse was the trio of Jayr Gudino, Zack Reynolds and Gonzalo Birrueta. This summer, Gudino and Reynolds participated in a six-week computer science camp at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, while Birrueta participated in a different six-week internship in San Francisco, learning how to make iPhones.
“It was pretty hard, but we got through it,” Gudino said, while Reynolds noted that they learned how to create a computer game from scratch.
Microsoft’s TechSpark program, which is locally managed by Lisa Karstetter, helped pay for a scholarship for Gudino and Reynolds to attend the camp.
Birrueta credited one of the TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools) instructors at QHS with sharing the idea of an internship with him.
Microsoft also runs the TEALS program, with volunteer software engineers from various companies helping with the instruction.
“It was a really good experience because at the academy there were people from over 40 countries,” Birrueta said of the camp. “It was amazing, being immersed in all these different cultures.”
“We students are extremely grateful for the opportunities and gateways the TEALS program has given to us and we can’t wait to see the progress throughout the years in the Quincy School District,” Birrueta wrote in a text message.
The presentation in front of Newhouse was “quite the experience,” Birrueta wrote in a text message afterward.
Throughout the presentation, Newhouse peppered the students with questions that ranged from technology to whether they had made friends during those busy summer weeks. Newhouse let the students guide him during a demonstration of how a computer program they had made worked.
“It was awesome to see that our representative was intrigued in making our computer science education system better than it already is,” Birrueta wrote, adding that it was an honor to be chosen as a voice for the students.
Students from 4-H spoke to Newhouse about the first year of a partnership between the group and Microsoft called 4-H Tech Changemakers, determining the needs of a rural area such as the Quincy Valley, in terms of internet access and tech skills among its populace. Digital illiteracy is a big problem in areas such as ours, the group’s Nora Medina has said. Along with Medina, Daisy Buenrostro and Pedro Flores presented the project to Newhouse.
One way the 4-H Tech Changemakers have addressed these needs is by creating a class to teach community members and citizens basic computer skills. The class’s second year kicks off at 6 p.m., Nov. 14, at the Quincy Senior Center.
Newhouse, who struggled a little with the earlier group’s demo, joked that “you can tell that some of us need some help.” Humor aside, Newhouse had high praise for the project.
“That’s amazing,” he said. “It’s helping you guys become teachers, too, right?” When the group responded in the affirmative, Newhouse said, “The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone.”
At the end of the presentations, Newhouse wasn’t done praising the groups.
“Awesome stuff,” he said.
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org