We celebrated the Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week with Mayor Marty Walsh, and some enterprising students at a very cool school - John D. O'Bryant. 

December 11: Mayor Marty Walsh and Soofa founder Sandra, chatting on the donated Soofa Bench. Sandra showed Mayor Walsh the new sensors Soofa has developed, housed in the nifty red box she is holding. 

December 11: Mayor Marty Walsh and Soofa founder Sandra, chatting on the donated Soofa Bench. Sandra showed Mayor Walsh the new sensors Soofa has developed, housed in the nifty red box she is holding. 

Soofa is an icon for sustainable, smart and social cities and since December 2015 a learning platform for students. Soofa Benches encapsulate it all: solar, sensors, smart cities, and entrepreneurship. 

To inspire young students, Soofa donated one of their solar-powered benches to John D. O'Bryant School, a 7-12 STEM school in Roxbury. Their engineering club is excited about the challenge to add sensors and build applications - students came to our first meetings with a long wish list, including a bus arrival sensor. 

Mayor Walsh greets some John D. O'Bryant students out front of the school. They were very excited to have the Mayor strolling the halls. 

Mayor Walsh greets some John D. O'Bryant students out front of the school. They were very excited to have the Mayor strolling the halls. 

John D. O'Bryant isn't any normal high school. Ed Moriarty of the MIT Edgarton Center began working with O'Bryant over a decade ago to establish practical education components. Thanks to Ed, the school received grant money to build an amazing workshop space where engineering class is held. When we visited, students were sautering components to make LED christmas ornaments. They have also made things like solar powered cleaners, for an MIT competition, and catapulting robots.

Mayor Marty Walsh viewing the solar-powered cleaner, also known as Fred, operated by a member of the building team. 

Mayor Marty Walsh viewing the solar-powered cleaner, also known as Fred, operated by a member of the building team. 

Having this kind of workshop space is indispensable for students interested in building things, plus makes class much more applicable! Some students already had an introduction to Arduino sensors, and they all knew some basics of circuit boards, which is far more than most people their age. Soofa was wishing we had classrooms like this while we were in high school. Ed also oversaw the installation of solar panels at the school, which are an important resource and symbol for students. 

Engineering students show off the Christmas ornaments they are sautering to Mayor Walsh in the workshop the MIT Edgarton Center helped make a reality. 

Engineering students show off the Christmas ornaments they are sautering to Mayor Walsh in the workshop the MIT Edgarton Center helped make a reality. 

O'Bryant is already a very impressive school, and they're just getting started. While there, we viewed potential plans for a new building full of exhibition and workshop space, so all the students can get involved with building and showcasing things. We are excited to see what these talented students come up with as they "hack" the Soofa Bench.

You can also check out a video CityTV made of the visit below: 

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