Exploring New Tools & Staying Motivated

Technology can be difficult at times. The media glorifies technological innovations as if they were infallible and the nothing could possibly be wrong with them. However, there are a host of issues that can spur up as you try to learn or adopt a new technology.

I have recently experienced with Bitcoin and with Microsoft BI. With the former I have seen the effects of tech literacy on me and my parents. Take me, I grew up when the Internet as we know it today was up and coming and we became fully iterate in social media, doing work on our computers, as well as begginning to interact with Internet of Things, such as smartphones! Currently I work as an analyst at a massive tech company that pays us to do tech work and continuously amplify our tech skills. One of these areas is blockchain. Additionally, I consider myself an actively literate person, always reading, researching, or communicating. Meanwhile, my dad did not have any of these scenarios growing up and neither does he now.

Therefore, when it comes to investing some of his hard earned extra money on Bitcoin, I am his link into this tricky world of tech. I credit my exposure working at a technology consulting firm that has exposed me to varies ways of understanding what block chain is, but with such a complex topic, more questions always emerge than answers. Therefore, I continue to engage myself, others, and my dad into conversations about literacy on the topic as well as gaining a keen technical understanding coming from practice at work and having some of the right connections.

Today, I was playing around with Power BI. When I first launched a youtube video explaining this new tool to me, I felt kind of like my dad, anxiously staring at a new tool that not only should I learn to use for my own knowledge and transferable skills but also to apply it at my job, in a higher stake situation. Therefore, it is imperative that I practice, learn more about the tool, and continue to apply it. Today, I managed to make several charts visualizing my data and ultimately beginning to give me the confidence I need to tackle technology to teach  myself and leverage the power of information in unforeseen ways.



Reflections on Hour of Code Event

Hour of Code had been my baby since the summer when I committed to leading an event and being the PoC for a school in DC.

Little did I know what I had chosen to be involved with until I started to communicate with a wonderful and powerful educator at the school and she started to get me involved.

In this role, I had to develop a lesson plan to engage the students in Hour of Code, where students would receive a smooth introduction into coding, and get hooked!

As you may imagine, the lesson plan went through many iterations before it was ready to be executed. At first I used a Nasa Lesson plan, which sought to do data analysis and show the effect of solar panels on school electricity usage. I quickly learned that this lesson was too much for too little time, but more importantly, I realized it may have been frustrating for some of the kids, given the many assumptions I was making about their knowledge.

Therefore, my co-leader and I decided to focus on the heart of coding and learning,

and that was to play games instead. Therefore, for the expo session pictured on the left we did brain teasers and played a trivia pong game whereby the kids were learning through playing, and earning prizes and points along the way.

For the other half of our time at the school, the volunteers interacted at different paces in classrooms all around the school, where their classrooms came alive with games, curiosity, and focus on getting our combat heroes to the next level.

Overall, the kids were interested in seeing how coding could be fun, and also get a glimpse at how coding is broader than they think, and present in their everyday lives. And hopefully, they also see that careers in fields that interact with coding are also within their reach.

Preparing for this year’s Hour of Code!

Hour of Code is an exciting venture marked by learning, curiosity, and team work. As I work with a local DC School on this event and help bring the best that a group of volunteers can offer to a school, I am excited for what impacts Hour of Code holds for Ron Brown High School.

If people have recently heard about Ron Brown, it is a local DC school that has been going through a lot of new changes and turmoil. While arriving to Ron Brown with a curriculum has not been the  best approach, it has taught me to be open and spontaneous and to prepare for the unexpected. For example, initially when planning a lesson for the hour of code I was confronted with planning without being fully aware of what the kids would actually enjoy, learn, and be equipped to tackle in an hour.As I equip to lead an event, there are several layers and pieces to the preparation. However, mostly it it has been producing different iterations and adding to my preparation leading into the event, and having an open mind to change even leading into the day of the event.

In the mean time, here are some tips:

The first is to surround myself by a team of people that know much more than I do about coding. Of course this is simple because I work at a technology company with a lot of software developers who surround me with resources and advice of how to begin to prepare for an event like hour of code

The second step of preparation has been learning up on how coding actually works, and how a child would see it, which is not hard given that I have limited coding background. Therefore, what I have done over the past several days has been to practice what it feels like to start from a very fundamental place and begin to unravel more complicated topics. In order to do this we start with games. Games and playing is the best way to bring people new to the topic into the folds. There are games for all preferences and ages and I have been taking a CS Teaching Fundamentals course which is exposing me to the wealth of resources educators can bring to their students to engage them in coding.

The first came I have played through the Hour of Code Teaching CS Essentials Course, I have played block games where each block has javascript driving the actions. But the idea is to  learn the concepts behind the code and to play a game while doing so. Games make the experience engaging and creates lower barriers to entry. For example, if kids started to code in a way that syntax mattered, they might get drained by the corrections and give up, never to return back to it.

Instead with a game, it will give kids the simulation of a video game or a computer game, which to them they are just having fun but really their brain is learning the logic and building blocks of code.

Update: Self-learning/ New learning project

It’s been a while since I have posted because I have been too busy doing and not chronicling what I have been doing. I figured that I would spend some time making some progress on the tasks before me instead of prematurely posting about them.

So one of the tasks that I have taken a deep dive into a new initiative around outsourcing jobs to refugee workers. This is an initiative that taps into a few areas of technology. Some of these areas include getting more familiar with artificial intelligence and machine learning and how these technologies can be leveraged to a learning and job outsourcing platform, including but not limited to standing up the architecture for a learning platform.

Furthermore, one of the areas that I have explored further is looking into artificial intelligence as a scalable tool as well as understanding the basic tools of AI through my company’s learning boards, tedtalks, speaking with managers, looking at deep dive documents, as well as sitting in on webcasts etc.

I have also had to make selections on the best tools to use to actually begin building out these courses, for which we have compiled information to make an informed decision. Especially since this will be a nonprofit initiative at first, saving upfront will be key for a low-budget launch.

One of the main takeaways of this experience as well as coming out of a few months of setting goals and failing to meet them:

  1. It is very hard to get yourself to do something if you don’t care or don’t enjoy it:
    1. this happened to me while trying to convince myself to just start from scratch just learning some code
    2. This is not something that I am particularly passionate about so of course I started off excited for a bit and then I just dropped it.
  2. It’s ok that this whole process of figuring out what learn will be a challenge and be messy
    1. I have been dabbling in a few different projects, from the nonprofit challenge to now working for an outsourcing social impact firm, there are several projects I find myself getting involved with different initiatives and it’s hard to make sense of it all
    2. I have found that to make sense of things it does help to make buckets and use an agenda to track progress in this buckets of activities
  3. Now that I have gotten a hold of a long-term project with a focus on technology and social impact, I can both apply my skills and stay with it for much longer!

Let me know if you have any questions on your own endeavors!


Redefining the identity of this blog and where it’s going next:

So here’s the thing, this blog needs to change and you will be a part of it:

Here’s the Words that come to mind when I had a conversation with a potential blog contributor and follower:

1. Make it an idea generating blog

2. Provide a platform for both social entrepreneurs and techies

3. Will connect and provide contacts

4. Promote a story: this is what I want to get out of this

5. Make this blog more of a knowledge base and funnel to opportunities for idea generation

6. Share info and ideas…look up other examples of social impact // show technical side


Pivot Tables: Part II

Today in my company we had a small brown bag on pivot tables:

These are very empowering for people like myself who have minimal exposure to data.

Say, your boss gives you spreadsheets and you get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Well something I am going to start putting to practice is instead of feeling stuck:


  1. Start with making a pivot table
  2. Create formulas to think about the data in different ways
  3. Then move on and present preliminary findings.

See some resources below:


Worksheet in Excel Training Pride ERG