Through a partnership with Google and the nonprofit, Playworks, 300 students from Lakewood Elementary got to have a “Playday at Google” Tech Corners in Sunnyvale on Oct. 22. Students got to meet Google employees and take a tour, have recess, and eat lunch on the campus. The effort was part of the school’s college and career readiness initiative where they learned what it takes to be a future employee at Google.
Sporting their very own custom made T-shirts for the event—as provided by Google—second through fifth graders left messages for Googlers on giant, outdoor chalkboard walls before exploring the campus. Fifth graders also got a special tour of the Computer History Museum earlier that day.
The two-year partnership aligns Google’s drive for community volunteerism with the school’s initiative to prepare students for 21st century careers and jobs.
A special steering committee met over the summer and planned for several opportunities to bring Google and the school together.
The Playday event was made possible through a connection with Playworks, a national nonprofit that facilitates class game time for all classrooms, teaches students new games at recess, and teaches students conflict resolution skills.
According to Julia Damon, Playworks Development Manager, Google approached Playworks looking to support a school.
“We immediately thought of Lakewood, not only because of its proximity to Google’s Tech Corners Campus, but also because of the amazing school partnership Playworks has with the school principal and the rest of the staff and students,” Damon said. “Our partnership with Google and Lakewood really connects the technology world with the local educational landscape. Many times, it’s a matter of bridging the gap between a corporation with resources to a school that could benefit from the support.”
Coach Joe, the Playworks Coach at Lakewood, facilitates recess and lunch activities and games 5 days a week at the school. He also trains Junior Coaches to lead and problem solve during these times and coaches after school sports teams to participate in a league run by Playworks.
Playworks brings groups of Googlers to recess to be adult role models and teach its conflict resolution, inclusion and leadership skills through play. The program works to create a school environment that is full of empathy, safety and fun.
“It’s a great experience for students, who always ask when the volunteers are coming back, as well as the volunteers who get to experience recess in a new way,” Damon added. “The Googlers enjoyed the school atmosphere of Lakewood so much, that they are now supporting Lakewood in other ways, including bringing a computer lab to the school!”
The Lead organizing the event, Stephen Dihn, said Google Finance moved to their Tech Corners facilities in November 2014 and wanted to quickly make positive impacts in the community.
“In our partnership with Lakewood—just 3 miles away from Tech Corners—Google Finance Giving is focused on empowering students from our community to break stereotypes, develop their own sense of selves, connect with the outside world and become global citizens,” Dinh said. “We were extremely excited when we heard Lakewood was celebrating College and Career week and thought that a field trip to Google would inspire and ignite the spirit of the students to be our future leaders. All of us Google Volunteers were enamored by the energy, passion and smiles the students brought to us.”
In addition to raising money for an iMac computer lab for the school, Google also helped facilitate a Tech Fair for Lakewood on Sept. 17, where Google Manager of GPS Effectiveness kicked off the evening filled with workshops around education apps, website creation, coding, typing, and Cybersafety.
Contributor Alia Wilson.