Bezlo Mom


Rachel Schoene with daughter Lexi.

Bezlo Mom Rachel Schoene.Code to Lexi is just something fun that she does, like art. I do hope that she will grow up to shape a world that is better than the one we are living in right now, I’m certain that knowing computer programing will help her to do that. “

Meet Bezlo Mom Rachel, Mom to our Role Model feature Lexi. Rachel is a huge supporter of STEM. Realising just how big technology is becoming in her kids everyday lives she decided to take a proactive approach ensuring her daughter Lexi was not passively consuming technology. In a short space of time this “non techie” Mom has become a major advocator for girls in technology and is proud of her daughter Lexi’s achievements within STEM. She has became so interested in Lexi’s coding activities that Rachel is now an Administrator for Coderdojo. Let’s find out how she made learning technology so much fun!

Rachel, tell us how did you and Lexi got involved with CoderDojo?

I’m really not very technical at all, I got involved in CoderDojo just over two years ago because Lexi had shown an interest in computers and I really wanted her to learn about technology, rather than just passively consume it. Or worse, be consumed by it.

What was your first impression of coding?

My first impression was that I was too old to really “get it”, the technical terms the kids were using were totally alien to me. The young people at Lexi’s Dojo were literally speaking another language…computer language! But the more I tried to be an active volunteering parent within the Dojo the more I picked up, and my confidence grew a little bit. Now I can at least support Lexi’s learning journey with a bit more enthusiasm than before. Seeing how excited she gets to show me her projects, fuels me to dig in and learn a bit more.

It’s amazing what you can pick up if you keep an open mind.

Wow, Sounds like your open mindset to learning has helped you overcome any obstacles. In the beginning did you feel in any way wary not being able to code yourself?

I definitely felt at a bit of a disadvantage. I felt bad at times because I couldn’t help Lexi work on projects at home or help her move on to the next phase of whatever she’s working on. But I’m learning bit by bit, and I’m sure I’ll pick up more.

What impact has it had on you as a mom? Has your outlook changed on the importance of technology?

As a mom, CoderDojo has had a huge impact on simple things, like how my family use technology. Before CoderDojo our family was controlled by technology,the kids were always gaming and just passively watching the ipads & laptops. Now I realise that actually, we have the ability to change and shape the technology we use everyday. That in itself is very empowering. Now the kids seek to explore the back end of game sites, and alter/modify the games they play to suit their interests. Minecraft modification is a big thing in our house, and that is actually programming too.

Technology is here, and it’s not going away. Ever. So, I guess I have changed my mantra of “get off the screens, in my day we were out playing” to “if you are going to use technology today, at least be learning, creating or doing something constructive with it”. I do limit screen time and make a huge effort to unplug, but that’s another interview for another day LOL.

Have you seen a change in Lexi since she joined CoderDojo?

To be honest the biggest changes I’ve seen in Lexi since she joined CoderDojo are intangible. Lexi’s confidence has soared. She can stand up anytime, anywhere and speak up about things that matter to her. That, as a young woman is a very important skill to have. She will respectfully challenge things, she questions everything , she can hold a room during a presentation, and most importantly she is not afraid to make mistakes. For the longest time she would obsess if she didn’t get top marks in school, or if she made a mistake while drawing or if she accidentally wrote a word wrong in a sentence. Lexi has learned at CoderDojo that it’s ok to mess up, to design things that don’t work out, to suggest ideas that may end up being impractical,  you can ALWAYS start over. There is no right or wrong at CoderDojo only learning.

That is truly amazing! Has Lexi’s progress in computer science encourage your friends bringing their daughters to CoderDojo?

No, my friends all have different non-tech careers and their daughters are all into different after-school activities. They all think that what Lexi is doing is fascinating though, so that’s lovely. Maybe I should try to poach their daughters from gymnastics/ballet/hip hop and get them to come to a Dojo!

You just never know! What would you say to moms out there who are reading this and are wondering how to get daughters more engaged in STEM?

STEM, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics if your daughter shows an interest is any of these subjects foster it, encourage them to join a Dojo (Dojo’s are free). Tell your daughters that they have the ability to change, fix, design the stuff that goes on behind the screens, so that rather than be passive consumers, they can actively shape the technology they use everyday to better suit their wants and needs and the wants and needs of the world around them. CoderDojo is the perfect place to learn the type of skills that will enable them to do just that.

Empower your daughter with knowledge of the STEM industry, break the habit of referring to girls interested in STEM as “nerds” or “geeks”, it’s awful how a few negative comments can change the trajectory of an ambitious young girl’s life. Give your daughter the confidence to pursue her interests. It’s important to tell girls that a large gender gap exists across the STEM industry. Girls should know that this has resulted in a lot of male centric ideas, products and services being brought to the fore in recent years.

It’s important for girls know that they can be decision makers, designers and play a significant role in changing technology to better solve problems that exist across all genders, to solve problems that exist across all societies and to solve greater global issues that affect everyone. There are tons of ways to get girls more engaged and excited about STEM! CoderDojo is a great place to start.

Team Hello Bezlo couldn’t agree more! We hope this interview with Rachel inspires more Bezlo Moms. You can follow Rachel on her quest to be the best advocator of STEM she can be over on twitter @RachelSchoene.  A big thank you to Rachel and Lexi for featuring as our Role Models and sharing their story. 

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