Virtual Coding App Addresses Diversity in STEM

Pitsco Education and SmartGurlz are partnering to launch a new coding solution to increase diversity awareness among third to fifth graders.

Smart Buddies

To address gaps in women and minorities entering STEM careers, Pitsco Education and SmartGurlz are debuting Smart Buddies, a new solution that focuses on third to fifth grade students. The app guides students through a virtual experience in which "buddies" lead them through a series of coding exercises.

The "buddy" characters enable students to address systemic and personal issues related to diversity, race, gender differences and content resolution, while learning the basics of block-based coding. Students control the movements of their buddies as they balance on programmable scooters called Siggys, using problem-solving techniques that cover the fundamentals of coding such as a sequences, loops, events, conditionals, functions and variables.

"Everything we do at Pitsco Education is rooted in providing future-relevant skills for all learners, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic background," said Stephan Turnipseed, chief strategy officer at Pitsco Education. "With Smart Buddies, we are on a mission to help more children identify with STEM, be much more inspired to continue their coding and STEM education journey, and ultimately contribute to bringing much-needed diversity to the STEM workforce."

The lesson plans behind the Smart Buddies app are designed to meet ISTE and Common Core standards. Smart Buddies will be available for purchase in customizable packs starting in September. More information about the coding solution can be found here

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

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