About the Founder
Amrita Lakhanpal is a freshman at Duke University and recent graduate of The Altamont School in Birmingham, Alabama. She was always the go-to person to solve all technology problems among her family and friends, and ultimately realized, she might be on to something. So, she began to explore the world of computer science, and instantly fell in love. Amrita has explored this field in the classroom, through volunteering, and even through Computer Science and Computational Biology research. She is very passionate about working to close the gender gap in the technology field, and volunteers with the 100 Girls of Code chapter in Birmingham and teaches a Girls Who Code club at her school. Outside of computer science, Amrita runs cross country, indoor and outdoor track, and also plays tennis for her school teams. She also has been on a Bollywood dance team since the age of 3. Additionally, Amrita serves as a teacher's aide at Mitchell's Place, a school for autistic children, over the summer. Amrita loves to travel around the world with her family, and has a very international background. She plans to major in Computer Science in college and minor in Spanish.
How Screens for Schools Got Started
Amrita began teaching a weekly computer class to the first and second grade students at the EPIC School as a part of their after-school and summer camp programs in the 8th grade. She would teach them all about the world of computer science including topics such as the World Wide Web, Internet Safety, Cybersecurity, typing, and the basics of coding. However, every time she went, it seemed as if there was a new computer issue that needed to be solved concerning the existing equipment. So, she decided to take matters into her own hands, and this is when she came up with the idea for Screens for Schools. Amrita met with the principal of EPIC and the IT Director of Birmingham City Schools, who expressed a need for sixty Chromebooks and two charging carts. However, Amrita was not sure how to raise funds to purchase this new technology, but ultimately decided to send her proposal to local technology companies. After six weeks of talking to various businesses, Amrita had raised $18,000 for EPIC, which was enough for not only the new technology, but also professional development for the teachers to learn how to use and implement these Chromebooks in their classrooms. Once the laptops arrived at EPIC, a Screens for Schools Coding Club was established, and is currently being run by two other high school students from Amrita's school.
Due to the success of her initiative with EPIC, Amrita decided to adopt another school: Central Park Elementary. She was able to raise $13,000 for this school, and the Chromebooks have arrived at Central Park Elementary!
Screens for Schools Scholarship to Camp Innovation
Screens for Schools sponsored two students to go to Camp Innovation sponsored by TechBirmingham. Amrita was a counselor at this camp and got to work alongside the scholarship awardees as they learned topics such as game design using Python, a programming language, and building with Elegoo kits, which contains components to build various circuits that light up, make noise, etc.
Meet Iyana Jones! She attends Tarrant Intermediate School and will be in the 6th grade next year. When Iyana grows up, she wants to be a teacher. While attending Camp Innovation: Maker Edition, Iyana enjoyed building things with the LED lights, wires, and buzzers. Her favorite project that she built while at camp was a fan.
Meet Shawntaysia! Watch the video to find out more about her, her favorite part of Camp Innovation: Game Development, and how her new knowledge of coding will benefit her in the real world.
Screens for Schools Coding Camp
Amrita hosted a week-long Screens for Schools Coding Camp at EPIC Elementary at the end of July. The camp was a HUGE success! Along with doing coding activities, campers learned a range of topics such as how to use specific language when talking to a computer, the meaning of the word "algorithm" and how to develop one, the basics of cryptography, and how to use decision trees. Of course, the camp was conducted using EPIC's new Chromebooks provided through Screens for Schools! See below for some pictures from the exciting week!
After volunteering with Mitchell's Place for three summers, Amrita decided that she wanted to extend her teaching of computers to children on the Autism spectrum as well. Through Screens for Schools, she conducted a bi-weekly coding class over two summers for the students of Behavioral ONE, an after-school program for children on the spectrum. Below, you can find the letter that was distributed to parents of Behavioral ONE giving the details of this program along with pictures and videos of some of the children that participated in the class.
Martha Gaskins Elementary
Amrita presented a check for $15,000 to Martha Gaskins Elementary in the spring, allowing the purchase of 60 Chromebooks and 2 charging carts at a wonderful program featuring the new Martha Gaskins Cheerleaders and speeches by both the principal Dr. Finley and various students. The Chromebooks will be delivered and ready to go for the upcoming school year.
Screens for Schools Coding Camp Year 2
For the second summer in a row, Amrita hosted a week-long coding camp at EPIC Elementary. With a total of thirty five students spread across two groups, the camp was successful, and a lot of fun for both the students and teachers! The campers spent time working through Code.org's Express Course, learning the fundamentals of coding, and closed out an amazing week of camp with a fun-filled Friday with coding-themed Kahoot games! Needless to say, the campers soon became extremely competitive, aiming to get the highest scores and outdo the teachers.