The Latest From Code Savvy

Our newsletters highlight a variety of people, organizations, and resources that are doing work to broaden participation and expand equitable and engaging computer science and STEM opportunities. We are honored to work in this space along with so many talented and passionate individuals and want to help bring attention to their work. 

This week’s spotlight and project-inspiration theme is: Earth Day!

This week’s focus is Spark-Y

April 22nd is Earth Day! To celebrate, we want to shine a spotlight on a local non-profit that is doing great work to empower students through sustainability, and connect agriculture to STEM. Spark-Y helps schools build and maintain aquaponics labs and other similar projects to help students experience growing and eating from sustainable food sources while learning about tools and strategies to take care of living things and the circle of life.

We were able to connect with Tatiana from Spark-Y, a non-profit based in Minneapolis. Read on to find out more about the great work Tatiana and the team at Spark-Y is doing with students around the state! You can also learn more on their website:

This week’s focus is “Connections between Poetry and Programming”

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Tatiana Hakanson. I grew up near Stillwater, MN and developed a love for nature from the very beginning. My parents weren’t always too pleased when I would bring home snakes, birds, turtles, and toads when the critters “needed my help,” but they never stifled my enthusiasm. I studied environmental science with minors in sustainability and ecological engineering at the University of Minnesota. I have dedicated much of my life to social justice, education, and sustainability, so I am grateful to have a job that brings together all of my passions for youth leadership development, community building, and environmental stewardship. As the executive project manager, I help turn the executive team’s big ideas into reality.

What is the Mission of Spark-Y?

Spark-Y is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and our mission is to empower youth with hands-on education rooted in sustainability and entrepreneurship. Spark-Y serves its mission of youth empowerment through three branches: hands-on learning, urban agriculture lab, and youth pathways. These initiatives work together systemically, creating multiple touch points for youth engagement in Minneapolis and other Twin Cities communities.

How is Spark-Y working to interrupt and counteract gender and/or racial gaps that exist in STEM?

Of our current staff members, 75% are women who have a background in STEM who make great role models for both girls and boys. Our programs and internships generally host the same amount of male and female students. Spark-Y partners with schools and communities where a majority of the youth we serve are students of color and attend schools that are often under-resourced. We understand that there are very real and systemic barriers that come between students and access to hands-on education opportunities, especially in STEM. Our goal is to provide pathways to help students on their journey. Spark-Y’s innovative approach to youth empowerment and education addresses the achievement gap, workforce shortages, and environmental challenges while engaging youth in fulfilling, hands-on experiences as they construct and maintain real-world sustainable systems such as aquaponic systems, community gardens, and water catchment systems.

How can people get involved or support your work?

There are three main ways to support what we do:

  • Donate – help support our programs and mission
  • Volunteer – we have many volunteer opportunities to help out. For example: getting your hands dirty in the gardens we manage, organizing plants for our plant sale, or helping out in a classroom
  • Connect – connect us to your local school or an organization working on sustainable projects. And sign up for our newsletter.

Go to to learn more! You can follow us @sparkyorg on Instagram and @sparkyouthactionlabs on Facebook too.

Earth Day the Spark-Y Way Event Details

Get involved in a rain garden installation in Minneapolis

Spark-Y Youth Courses

This week as you are creating with code, try a project that honors Earth Day! Could you create a Scratch program that helps others learn ways to take care of the environment? Or for a challenge you could build a simulation of an aquaponics lab or ecosystem. For more ideas, check out these Earth Day project ideas from Tynker. Be sure to share your creations!

share your CS to Go projects!

How to Share: We invite CS to Go with Code Savvy participants to consider sharing your projects publicly with the Code Savvy and greater #MNCodes community via video with Flipgrid. We can’t wait to see what you create! Please be sure to follow online safety guidelines and get adult permission before sharing. You can find our Privacy Policy here.

Catch Up on Past Weeks’ CS to Go and Bytes of Inspiration Videos

CS to Go and Bytes of Inspiration with Code Savvy are our response to the current health crisis — Code Savvy’s programs have come together to share weekly youth- and educator-centered videos that focus on creating new things with computer science. You can find all CS to Go and Bytes of Inspiration videos under Distance Learning on our website!


Other Happenings

Code Savvy’s MNCodes Educator Training Program and Opportunities

MNCodes May Computer Science Workshops, May 15th

Code Savvy and CSTA MN are proud to partner to offer a morning of workshops centered around a variety of computer science education topics. This event will feature 6 different workshops to choose from to attend, or you can buy an all-access pass in order to have access to recordings from all the workshops.

CSTA MN Members qualify for a free ticket! Current and new CSTA MN members will receive information via e-mail on how to claim your free ticket.

Event details and registration can be found on EventBrite. Hope to see you there!

Scholarships Available for CSTA 2021

Each summer the Computer Science Teacher’s Association hosts a large nation-wide conference. This year will be virtual, and CSTA is offering scholarships that subsidize 100% of the program cost to support teachers whose limited financial resources may prevent them from attending. Learn more about our scholarship opportunity and apply by April 30. Read more about scholarships here.

CS Integration Curriculum Showcase

As part of the MNCodes Cohort, educators are asked to create lessons that integrate computer science with another curricular content area such as literacy, math, science, or others, and align to both CSTA and MN Academic Standards. We will use this space to regularly showcase various curriculum resources that have been created by current or former MNCodes Cohort members.

Coding Ecosystems with Ozobots

In this lesson, students will use Ozobots, markers, and poster paper to explore ecosystems and animal populations through coding and collaboration. They will familiarize themselves with the symbiotic relationships of animals. Check out the lesson resources here. To see other projects that integrate CS into core content areas, you can browse our database on the MNCodes website.

Coffee + CS Ed Zoom Call

Looking for more ways to connect with other educators interested in CS Ed? Or do you have ideas to share, questions or want to try out a resource in the company of other K12 CS Educators? Check out Coffee + CSEd Chats – every Friday at 8am, CT. Anyone is welcome to join! Details and Zoom info can be found here


The Technovation[MN] teams submitted their apps on Monday, April 19. 33 MN teams completed their submissions. What a great accomplishment for the teams and the mentors. A hearty congratulations to all who participated. 




Our winter/spring schedule is now available here. Our next virtual event is this Saturday, April 24th! – Register Here. Hope to see many of you there. Sign up for email notices – CodeDojoTC and Rebecca CoderDojo

IT Connect Connect Community announces “A Gal’s Guide to the Galaxy” – The Ultimate Guide for Women in STEM.   Minnesota Aspirations in Computing – SPARCS program leader Katie Hendriksen has assembled an amazing cast of STEM characters who are presenting on a wide range of STEM topics.    Get registered now….then invite some friends and schoolmates to join you.   It’ll be a BLAST! Registration ends May 16.

Best Prep Summer Offers 2021 Minnesota Business Venture Camp

Minnesota Business Venture –  MBV is a virtual four-day business and career development summer camp that brings together students in grades 9-12 to learn business, leadership, and financial literacy skills.

This is a great opportunity to network with students from across the country, hear from business owners, build skills needed for your resume and future job, learn information you’ll need for college applications, and help you learn about the career you’d like in the future. 

Visit for more information.

More Code Savvy

About Code Savvy

Code Savvy empowers youth and educators with the knowledge, skills, and support to create with technology while interrupting and counteracting gender, racial, and socioeconomic gaps in computing. We create opportunities for hands-on computer science learning that inspires learners to transform the future.

Visit our website to learn more

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