Boerum Hill

Dikembe Mutombo gets computer science lesson from Brooklyn students

December 9, 2014 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo stopped by M.S. 447 in Boerum Hill on Monday to encourage kids studying computer science — and he even got a lesson from them afterward. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese

Former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo got a lesson in computer science from some bright Brooklyn middle schoolers on Monday.

Students at M.S. 447 in Boerum Hill all participate in technology classes designed to introduce them to computer science. While it is primarily just the eighth graders who take part in coding lessons, all of the students are involved this week as part of Code.org’s Hour of Code program, which aims to demystify computer science for young children.

Mutombo visited the junior high school to get the kids excited about learning, and in turn, the students offered him some tips in computer science.

“The world that we are living in today is changing dramatically, and without the knowledge of computers and science, you will be nowhere,” Mutombo told the students. “For you to get a job and to have success, you have to know more about science than I did as a child growing up.”

Mutombo, who grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, too poor to play basketball, let alone own or use a computer, spoke to the kids about the importance of their education. He said that he was studying to become a medical doctor at Georgetown before he bgan playing the sport that would make him famous.

“I’m so happy to be a part of this because I believe in each one of you,” Mutombo said. “Some you might go to Harvard, Georgetown or Georgia Tech. One of you one day might take us to the moon.”

M.S. 447, also known as the Math and Science Exploratory School, believes in a hands-on approach to learning. As part of that, sixth, seventh and eighth graders have a technology class on their schedule and learn to code in the eighth grade.

It was the school’s technology teacher, Sean McCollum, who signed up all of his classes for Code.org’s Hour of Code program. That’s when Code.org approached the school about having Mutombo come meet its students in conjunction with the NBA Cares program.

“When we heard about Hour of Code at 447, we figured it was right up our alley,” said the school’s principal, Arin Rusch. “It was an opportunity for all of our kids to participate in the computer science activities. Students get to engage hands-on with the technology that will play such a key role in your lives throughout your academic and professional career.”
The students had the chance to ask Mutombo questions. Many were so interested in computer science that they had more questions coding than they did about Mutombo’s experience in the NBA. Some kids were just as interested to speak with Code.org’s Jake Baskin.

“Whether you are interested in sports or arts or entertainment, all of these things are going to involve computer science, and what you learn this week could be what gets you there,” Baskin told the students.

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