Charlotte Latin girls give a TEDx talk

I met Tom Dubick about a year ago at Hackerspace Charlotte, NC. He teaches engineering to the girls at Charlotte Latin School, and we believe his class was the first to be using the Raspberry Pi in the United States.

He and a group of his 13-year-old pupils have just given a TEDx talk called How Girls Should Serve Raspberry Pi. The girls here are presenting the projects they’ve made with Raspberry Pi over this semester, but there’s another important message here: we know that STEM subjects are not just for boys, but we should recognise that not all girls are the same, so our teaching approach is doomed if we decide that the only way to get girls into engineering subjects is to “shrink it and pink it”.

Keep watching – the projects get better and better. (Rolling backpack indicator lights FTW!)


Andrea avatar

This makes a refreshing change.

I remember years ago when BBC A3000 and Acorn 3010 computers were being removed from schools and replaced by Intel based PC’s running Microsoft ‘software’.

The sales representatives from some large US companies that were taking advantage of the change from RISC OS based computers to Wintel, were doing the rounds of the schools. I remember full well one of those sales representatives making clear that girls should not be studying programming and should use PCs for word processing to become better secretaries.

It is great to see more women being encouraged to use the Raspberry Pi. Years ago in computing classes there was a blatant sexism that was encouraged.

Hopefully today the women will show the men what they can do.

PS: My BBC A 3000 is still working and has been in constant use since I was given it all those years ago. The monitor may have failed, but the monitor stand is still very useful for
holding a monitor. Also I now have a Raspberry Pi in an old broken Acorn BBC A3000 case. Quite an useful computer. The Raspberry Pi literally feels like I am picking up efficient coding, with a break from 1990 to last year.

Ade avatar

Inspiring video, thanks for this Pi people.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit but no matter what I’ve tried, [even though we’ve had a Pi since launch] only after watching this video did my ten year old [son] finally ask for some breadboards and a Lillypad Arduino!

At last, hehe:)

ps – TED talks ftw ;)

liz avatar

You should check out the Flora from Adafruit too – wearables are a great way into physical computing for kids, and the Flora (which is new) is a really nice piece of kit.

Laure avatar

It would be amazing if this middle school girls’ engineering class were available as an online class! Thanks for this.

Tom avatar

Laura, I teach hybrid and virtual classes as well as at Charlotte Latin (I want to make as many engineers tinkers and programmers as possible)

Let me know if you are still interested.

Tom Dubick

Jim Manley avatar

Tom – very impressive!

If you’re not already aware, I teach STEM to kids in low-performing and high-poverty middle and high schools in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District on the periphery of the agricultural areas that provide the majority of the fruits and vegetables we all eat. I also run Raspberry Jams in both Silicon Valley and the Salinas Valley. The latter is home of John Steinbeck, where a joint innovation center formed by the two Valleys is promoting integrated ag and tech STEM education through local institutions.

I would like to join forces with you and other what I’m calling Pi Bakers, educators using the Pi in STEM programs. I’m working on a nationwide U.S. education Pi buy to demonstrate a serious commitment to the distributors so production can be ramped up to meet the latent demand that’s been onesey-twosey by individual educators, parents, and students, so far. We can exchange contact info via Pi forum PM and I’ll see if I can find your info if it’s on your school’s web site, via the TEDx talk meta-info, etc.

michael daitzman avatar

Not sure why her being latin should be in the headline.

clive avatar

I’m not sure why her being called Charlotte should be either.

Tom Dubick avatar


I would enjoy the opportunity to speak with you. I am on LinkedIn. How about you? Plus, I am goggle+


Ade avatar

Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll look it up :)

Tom avatar

The projects are interesting. The students did a superb job of presenting. The Raspberry Pi movement just keeps getting better!

Jim Manley avatar

Well, I could come up with all sorts of “West Side Story” Sharks and Jets one-liners, but I’ll somehow manage a Dr. Strangelove grip on my Manleyness :D

What are called Latin Schools in the U.S. I believe are modeled somewhat closely on the upper-crust UK (and European, in general) secondary schools that place an emphasis on the classics (Greek and Roman – hence Latin – literature, math(s), science, etc.). I think most, if not all U.S. Latin Schools are private, but they could actually be the forerunners of what are today called “magnet” schools that focus on mastery of educational fundamentals. As the name implies, Latin is taught to all students since that was the lingua franca during the Rennaissance and if one wants to really study the Roman classics, doing so in near-fluent Latin is the way to go.

Like my high school Spanish teacher told us, “Kids, if you can’t smell the beans, you won’t understand the language.” Yes, he really said that, but it was the late 1960s and civilization didn’t crumble upon such utterances. I do agree with the spirit of his declaration, though, the best way to learn a language _is_ over tapas, tamales, tacos, or whatever is the day-to-day food in a given culture.

Mike Loring avatar

Hello Tom,
I am the tech director of a small private high school in the San Francisco area. I will be in Charlotte the week of May 6. Is there a chance we could meet and talk about your Pi engineering program?

bradley avatar

as your pi is in an a3000 i hope you have an sd card with risc os on it

Tom avatar

Please do Mike. I would love to have you come and our program. Look me up on LinkedIn.


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