Eugene-based nonprofit Thinkersmith offers computer science exposure to both children and adults, increasing future job opportunities for participants.
Thinkersmith was established in May 2011, when [Kiki] Prottsman saw the need to reach children early and the improbability of computer science becoming a widely taught subject in elementary schools. As a single mother of two boys, financing was difficult, Prottsman said, but “(I) knew it had to be done.” She received a tax refund while she was working to get Thinkersmith off the ground and that money went toward getting things started. Tom Emmons and Nate Bernstein, of local Web development company Emberex, also donated to the cause.
The organization kicked off its “Traveling Circuits” program last fall after testing it the spring before. In the program, Prottsman and volunteers visit schools in Eugene and Springfield, teaching things like binary (language), functions, algorithms and robotics. The children make crafts that help them understand and practice these, such as magnets that spell their name in binary — a computer language using 0s and 1s.
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