Story by LCpl Anabel Abreu Rodriguez on 03/30/2018Local elementary schools located on Camp Pendleton received hands-on experience this week when they attended Microsoft Corporation's YouthSpark Live Seminar, hosted by Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 20th & 22nd, 2018. The event marked the first time that Microsoft brought its program to a military base, with plans to hold similar events at additional bases later this year.
U.S. Marine Corps retired Maj. Gen. Chris Cortez, now vice president of military affairs at Microsoft and former assistant division commander for 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, spoke about the advantages of YouthSpark and the milestone reached by hosting on a military base for the very first time.
"I can't tell you how pleased I am to be here today," said Cortez, "not only proud of what Microsoft is doing for our military children but also to be back to what was my home for a long time."
YouthSpark's priority focus is on computer science education, with the ultimate goal of inspiring young people to pursue a career enabled by technology. Microsoft employees spent time with students in a question and answer type forum, providing insight on how technology touches almost every occupation.
"It's about taking what's in your hand, and doing something with it." said Carmen Summers, director of technical sales, "you can end up going into the same field that you thought you weren't good at and impact it in a different way."
Students then hunkered down with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) based instruction. They broke off into groups and worked together with provided materials to construct a robotic hand. Learning breaks were also offered to give students more insight into the fundamentals of their project, while also developing team building and leadership skills.
"Its super fun." said Aryana Shaw, student, "I would definitely recommend it to my friends."
Parents of the participants were invited to observe the program and hear from students on what they learned, as well as their favorite moments of the two-day event.
"This is amazing!" said Lt. Col Eric M. Beckmann, Combat Logistics Regiment-15, father of an attending student, "I think all schools should have this opportunity."
Microsoft Corporation will be bringing their YouthSpark events to additional military bases in the coming months, to include Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Fort Brag, N.C., and Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.