Tuesday, June 29, 2010

8-year-old Web Designers with a Mission

photos and story by Jocelyn M. Goode
(r to l: Najma, Olu, Micah, Rashawn and Ms. Ivonne Cintron)

There is a belief that children are becoming smarter with every generation and know more at a younger age than the kids of the era before. This thought is evidenced by a class of elementary school students who, in one semester, learned the basics of web design and created sites to inform the masses about issues that concern them.

Meet Rashawn, 9, Najma, 8, Micah, 9 and Olu, 8. They are fourth grade students at the Community Partnership Charter School in Brooklyn, New York. As member of the Senior Academy, the kids had a choice of co-curricular classes which included over a dozen selections such as Capoeira Angola, yoga and cooking. They chose web design. Their instructor, Ivonne Cintron taught their class key components to building a website, while the students researched subjects and gathered facts. The culmination of the course was to put together a live, functioning website.

In the following interview, read in the words of these youth about why they chose to study web design and how they came to identify the issues of importance, to share with the world.

FAIM: Why are you interested in web design?

Rashawn: I like to learn new things.
Najma: You decide what you want to show.
Rashawn: I want people to notice me; I only have a little bit of friends, maybe I can make more...
Micah: I want people to know me, I want to express myself because there are things inside my heart and I want people to know it to make the world better.
Olu: I saw a lot of websites on the internet and I wanted to see if I could make one.
Najma: It involves using the computer and I use the computer all the time.
Micah, 9 years old
FAIM: What subject did you pick for your website and why?
Micah: My subject is about Haiti because Haiti is destroyed. Even though we're not in that country, we can help them. My friend Senai, her grandfather died in the earthquake and I wanted to help her because she never got to meet him. A lot of people died and what if that happened here and no one helped us?
Rashawn: We focused on gang violence and how bad it is because a lot of people get hurt and killed. Around my neighborhood when I was younger, people used to fight and I got scared. So when I chose this subject, I thought of the fights. I wanted to warn people that if they joined gangs and started fights, they might be wanted as a criminal when they grow up.
Najma, 8 years old
Najma: My topic is endangered animals. I chose it because it's a subject that people don't talk about that much and so I decided to put it as a website so people would realize its a serious thing.
Rashawn, 9 years old and Olu, 8 years old
FAIM: What do you want to happen now that the site is done?
Olu: I want people to see it and spread the word. Then maybe I'll make another one.
Micah: I want people to see it and take the advice like have bake sales to raise money and try to ship it and spread the word so everybody could know about it.
Olu: Don't join gangs because there are 30,000-35,000 members. If you don't want that number to increase, people shouldn't join or else someone you know may suffer.
Rashawn: There's a lot of gang violence and more people are joining gangs...I was hoping to stop the rivalry between the Crips and the Bloods because they have been fighting ever since...

FAIM: What does the future for web design hold for you?

Rashawn: In my future, maybe I'll make a website about how to make the world a better place, like stop littering and wasting paper because paper comes from trees and if we don't have trees, we die.
Micah: I see in my future, I'll make more websites and the world will be a better place like it was before.
Najma: I see in my future that web design isn't gonna become my job but I can still do it now and then.
Olu: I might do it again when I have technology class.

To see Micah's website to promote Haiti relief visit: http://cpcsschool.weebly.com/
For Najma's website about endangered animals, click here: http://cpcswebdesign.weebly.com/
Rashawn and Olu worked together to make a website about gang violence:http://webdesignacademy.weebly.com/