S. E. Williams
If enthusiasm and participation alone were the hallmarks of success, the technological future of the inland region would rest in good hands.
On Sunday, October 15, nearly seventy students and their parents gathered at the Mt. Rubidoux Seventh Day Adventist Church in Riverside for C3 Expo 2017, the brain child of Kevin Carrington, founder of Carrington Case.
The Expo’s experiential learning is hosted each year on Carrington’s birthday as an ode to his dad and the things he taught him.
The enthusiasm was palpable when the doors opened promptly at 9:30 a.m. and students rushed in, eager to embrace the opportunities the day promised in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Carrington took a moment to explain the history of the C3 Expo and his excitement about the day’s events.
“I am overly excited. I am overjoyed. This is the thing that gives me the most joy every year, to do this for the kids in the community,” he said. “When we started C3 three years ago, we only had three kids. The next year, we had twenty-two. This year, seventy-one kids registered. We are super excited.” He added, “[the C3 Expo] just keeps growing and growing and growing.”
Carrington was quick to acknowledge it takes a team to produce an event as large and impactful as this year’s Expo. He gave particular credit to C3’s Program Director, Ralph Richardson, and Pastor Michael Kelly II of the Mt. Rubidoux Seventh Day Adventist Church, who graciously provided the event space, among other support, that allowed the C3 Expo to accommodate so many students this year.
“We are really excited about having seventy kids this year,” Richardson told the Voice/Black Voice News. “I’ve been working with Kevin on the C3 Expo and having a great time doing it.”
Some of the behind-the-scenes efforts that resulted in this year’s Expo began with securing sponsors. “We have great sponsors this year, including ESRI and Mt. Rubidoux Seventh Day Adventist Church.” Other sponsors included the Black Voice News, The Community Foundation, Bitpeel, Vocademy, City of Riverside and Poly High School.
Other preparatory steps, according to Richardson, included getting children registered and excited. “One of the things special about C3, is that we have kids teaching kids. Today we have five kids we call ‘Agents’ that will be teaching Scratch [a visual computer programming language] to some of the students between the ages of seven and fourteen.”
When asked about the goals of C3, Richardson shared, “To teach the kids about technology and teach them a little bit about coding.” Some may begin to see this as an opportunity for a career, or just have fun. “We want them to know,” he stressed, “If you want to become a rock star programmer, you can do it.”
Listed among the stars of C3 Expo 2017 were the five student teachers who led the Scratch class. The teaching Agents, who remained incognito in dark sunglasses, included 10-year-old Miles Moodie; Nina Richardson, 11; Inari Richardson, 9; Caleb Moodie, 8; and Genesis Kelly, 11.
Carrington’s enthusiastic opening remarks set the tone for the rest of the day, followed by a technical presentation by ESRI Geodesist Michael M. Kelly, who spoke on “The Science of Where.” Kelly skillfully engaged the students throughout his presentation.
Next, there was a panel discussion that focused on the impact of technology in business, followed by a question and answer session. Panel participants included the leaders of Bitpeel, Vocademy, Tengia and the Voice/Black Voice News.
Next, the students were separated into two groups. Those between the ages of seven years to eleven years participated in the Scratch Session’s Introduction to Coding. Ages 12 to 18 participated in “This is Rocket Science,” building rocket ships and writing the computer code to launch them.
The event was rooted in a Marvel Comic Superhero theme selected by one of the event’s key sponsors, Pastor Kelly. The students’ technical challenges were presented in two parts. First, the event’s super hero, RiRi Williams, needed an outfit for a newly assigned mission— this project was completed by those in the Scratch training session. Next, the space ship for RiRi’s mission needed to be designed, built, and test launched—this effort was entrusted to those who participated as part of the “This is Rocket Science” teams.
Parents were engaged and enthusiastic about the day’s program as well. David Cenatus attended the event with his 15-year-old son, Dakarei. Cenatus registered his son, a high school sophomore in Ontario, for C-3 when he learned about it while attending service at Mt. Rubidoux SDA Church. Dakarei loves working with computers, and was excited to participate in the session.
Event sponsors were equally excited about the promises for the future central to the day’s effort. Jan Cunningham of ESRI brought materials for the students, including coloring books, notebooks, and posters, in addition to a lesson plan for the Scratch Coding Session. “I’m interested in having an opportunity to meet the kids and learn what their interests are. After all, we are a local company and look forward to some of them hopefully coming to work for us some day.”
In addition to Cunningham’s Expo participation and the plenary presentation of Geodesist Michael M. Kelly, ESRI generously provided 80 laptops for the event. This helped ensure that each student had access to a computer, enabling them to fully participate. In previous years, C3 participants were required to bring their own computers, if possible.
By any measure, this year’s C3 Expo was a rousing success. What started as the vision of one man was fueled by strong support from a network of friends and other professionals who believed in Carrington and embraced has vision. The vision subsequently received support from international technology giant ESRI, the Black Voice Foundation and the partnership and grace of Pastor Michael Kelly II.
Commenting on the future of C3, Carrington said, “We’re hoping that next year’s expo will result in even more students eager to learn and grow in the information technology field.”
There’s no question Carrington is invested in the future of the region’s youth. As noted on his website, carringtoncase.com, his commitment to education was inspired by a piece of bathroom art that read ‘What if the cure for cancer was trapped inside of the mind of a person who can’t afford an education?’ According to Carrington, “This drove us to ensure that we support young people who wish to pursue an education in any of the STEM fields of study.”