About this time last year, Mayor Battle announced Huntsville would be added to the list of new Google Fiber Cities in the country, giving us ultra-high-speed Internet service to homes, businesses, libraries and schools in the metro area. The mayor’s promise is becoming a reality, and with Google Fiber comes a whole series of community impact-oriented programs that parents and students will enjoy.
We talked with Daynise Joseph, Community Impact Manager for the Huntsville roll out, and learned more about her passion for STEM and education, as well as what Google Fiber will mean for the Huntsville community.
How did you first hear about Rocket City Mom?
I’m from Nashville, TN and because Huntsville is only a short two hour drive I have taken several day trips with my sons. I use Rocket City Mom as a source to know what options I have for my kids when I’m in Huntsville. I have used it for many years and it remains a great source to say in the know of cool family friendly events.
What led you to be in the role that you’re in with Google Fiber?
My career has primarily been focused on community work since I started. I have worked on issues like affordable housing, public education, public transportation, and other quality of life issues for underserved communities. My current role has a deep focus on Digital Inclusion which is very much about access to the internet for underserved communities.
What is Digital Inclusion?
There are actually a few definitions out there. Simply having an internet connection in the home is not enough. Google Fiber sees Digital Inclusion as a three legged stool where a family has: an internet connection, a device (computer), and digital literacy skills.
We work closely with community stakeholders to coordinate those three legs of the stool so that more people can get online and do things like continue their education, search and apply for jobs, access information about critical services, and connect with family and friends.
So, what focus does Google Fiber have on STEM?
In the United States, 74% of girls express interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in middle school. By high school, only 0.4% of teen girls plan to major in Computer Science. CS jobs will be the highest-paying sectors over the next decade, paying almost $15K more than average. Because encouragement from adults and peers is the #1 contributor to a teen girl’s decision to pursue Computer Science, we strive to expose more students to STEM.
Our initial efforts have already started. We worked with the Boys and Girls Club of North Alabama to offer Made with Code to 14 middle and high School girls. Made with Code demonstrates how coding is incorporated into things like fashion design, filmmaking, and other creative aspects of life.
Our Google team is also offering a free screening of Hidden Figures to 350 students from local Boys and Girls Clubs, the Girl Scouts, and Girls Inc. We are working with the US Space and Rocket Center to host the event where students will enjoy an array of STEM activity prior to the film. After the film there is a panel discussion with four amazing African-American women engineers who all work(ed) for NASA: Dr. Shelia Nash-Stevenson; Elaine Flowers Duncan, and Marceia Clark-Ingram. Again, the goal is to expose students to the possibility of STEM careers and encourage those who are interested to pursue.
In the following weeks we will work with the Boys and Girls Club to bring more intro to code programs in the coming weeks. In addition to Made with Code, we will also offer Create Your World where students use the power of code to create music and stop motion animation.
But, aren’t kids already good with technology?
That is definitely the assumption. Young people tend to be great consumers of technology but we want to encourage more students to be creators of technology and exposing more student to STEM and focusing on Digital Inclusion are two ways to have positive impact on that goal.
As a mother how have you incorporated technology into your son’s life?
I have two sons and the evolution of technology is very stark as I reflect. My oldest son grew up when internet in the home was not common. We had a computer but most of the games and tools that are app based today came on CD then. I was an early internet adopter because I recognized the power of instant information and how it could enhance his education.
By the time my second son came, we were a digital world. His school issues Chromebooks for each student and the curriculum is digital much like here in Huntsville City Schools. He accesses videos on YouTube to supplement what he learns in school. He has an autism diagnosis so we spend a great deal of time online using various digital tools that help him understand and navigate life. My second son does not know a life where there isn’t internet access in the home–except for the time we moved and the wifi didn’t get connected for three whole days. He thought the world ended.
Any final thoughts?
We are so excited to work with the the community as we prepare to bring service to Huntsville and people have been very welcoming. I am so impressed with the existing STEM ecosystem and hope to add value where we can.
Also, for a very limited time as a “thank you” to the city, we would like to offer each household in Huntsville a free t-shirt. You can visit this link to sign up.
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