Students Learning with Target Tech Kids
The Target Tech Kids team recently hosted 47 students from the Belgrade Brooten Elrosa 5th grade class at Target’s headquarters. The students have been learning block-based programming since they were in kindergarten, and recently started getting exposure to text-based programming. The teachers wanted to help the students draw connections from their experience with code to possible career paths, so their day at Target was designed with this goal in mind.
First, the students started their day in Target’s Dojo, an immersive learning environment created by Target’s Technology Team. The students learned about an Agile framework called Kanban by tracking tasks from “To Do” to “In Progress” and finally to “Done.”
Next, the students were challenged to be engineers by creating a smart light through a guided Arduino 101 class and updating their own Kanban board - where they tracked activities and progress - as they went. They used the practice of pair programming and took turns writing code to control the blink speed and brightness of an LED light. They also used a photocell to control the brightness of the LED based on the ambient light. At the end of the activity, students were encouraged to be creative by adding their own flair.
After that, the students had a chance to ask questions to a panel of Target team members. These team members represented different jobs and backgrounds across the Target’s technology team, which helped the students gain perspective on available career paths. They learned a lot about a day in the life of engineers, scrum masters, product owners, and senior leadership, and were also interested to hear that none of the panelists thought that they would be in technology when they were in 5th grade! Instead, they expected to be something completely different, like an oceanographer, an artist, or a ninja. This openness demonstrated the value of diverse backgrounds and mindsets. The students were especially excited to discover that Target has a game room, and to learn how it helps engineers be more productive.
Finally, the students and teachers were able to take a tour of the Target’s Guest Experience Center. They saw and interacted with new technologies that Target is piloting to enhance the store experience for both guests and team members. Then, they were off to explore the rest of Minneapolis before staying the night at the Minneapolis Zoo.
Target Tech Kids is a group of passionate Target team members with a goal to empower and inspire young minds to explore the world of technology in a fun and welcoming environment. Target Tech Kids has hosted several events. The most recent was Kids Tech Day, a day for Target team members to bring their kids to work and take part in fun technology related activities. Other events include Girl Scout Think Like a Programmer and Cyber Security, empowering the Girl Scouts to earn badges. Target Tech Kids has also developed and internally published a library of STEM resources that are available for Target team members.
The Dojo is Target’s unique immersive learning environment. It was designed to help leaders and teams transform and is a place for Target team members to learn, build, or improve their Product, Lean, Agile, and DevOps mindsets.