STEAM Education

Competition Promotes Learning to Code with Music Remixing

Amazon Future Engineer is working with Georgia Tech and Pharrell Williams' nonprofit YELLOW in a new K-12 competition intended to push students to understand how music, computer science and entrepreneurship can be tools used to advance equity. The "Your Voice is Power" program challenges participants to remix music while learning to code. Winners receive scholarships or grants to start new businesses.

This week, as part of CSEdWeek's Hour of Code initiative, students can participate in online coding sessions. The competition is also making free curriculum and professional development resources available to teachers.

Students create their remixes using EarSketch, Georgia Tech's free online code editor. The remixes must pull from "Entrepreneur," a new song by Pharrell that celebrates Black culture, and can also use beats from Alicia Keys' "Underdog" and Khalid's "New Normal."

Submitted remixes must be 30 seconds to three minutes long and run in EarSketch without errors. They'll be judged based on the quality of music, code and messaging by a panel of industry professionals.

Students can compete with their class or on their own. The challenge runs from Dec. 1, 2021 to Jun. 19, 2022. Finalists from the first round of judging will be announced in March; the grand prize winners will be announced in August.

Five students will each win a $5,000 scholarship or grant to start a business. Additional prizes through the two judging rounds include a $500 Amazon gift card, one awarded specifically to an elementary student and another to a middle school student; $200 Amazon gift cards to 10 finalists; and $25 Amazon gift cards to 100 semi-finalists.

Also, five teachers will win $1,000 cash prizes for "above-and-beyond instruction" involving the Your Voice is Power curriculum. Teachers with 10 or more student submissions will be eligible and contacted to apply.

The curriculum will consist of five or six modules, each module to be used during a single 60-minute class period. Competition organizers emphasized, however, that teachers can move through the modules at their own speed. Each module includes a scripted lesson plan, slide decks, digital student materials, exemplar code examples and videos.

While the materials are aligned to the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, organizers are encouraging non-CS teachers to participate too. Teacher training will be made available during January.

Remix examples and winning entries from the 2021 competition are available on the Your Voice is Power website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.