Guinness World Record in Coding!

An Hour of Code Activity

Join us in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for “Most Users to Take an Online Computer Programming Lesson Within 24 Hours”


Students aged 17 and younger are invited to participate. A parent or legal guardian must register their student by 11:59pm on Monday, December 7 for their student’s hard work to count toward the world record!

Registration is free and takes less than 1 minute to complete. Be sure to enter in the “Teacher’s Email Address” field!


Students will need to complete a (minimum) 30-minute online JavaScript lesson. We will host a synchronous Zoom session to guide participants through the lesson at 4pm on Friday, December 11th. We invite you to join us at the following link!

Meeting ID: 981 4686 1857
Passcode: GoGreen!

If you cannot join us on Zoom, you can still help set the record by completing the lesson asynchronously anytime after 8 am on Saturday, December 11 and before 8 am on Sunday, December 12 (provided that you registered in time).

Week 6

Finishing Strong

We've got a number of important announcements this week, so we're putting them first—but be sure to keep scrolling for a full recap of our 11/21 meeting!

    Final Meeting

  • Saturday (11/21) was our final Technovation meeting of the year. There is no meeting on Saturday, 11/28, or on future Saturdays in 2020.
  • Parent Survey

  • We need your feedback to make Technovation the best it can be. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes—fill out the parent post-survey here!
  • Certificates

  • Keep an eye on your mailbox over the coming weeks for a surprise from Technovation! If your student attended at least 4/6 meetings, we will be mailing a certificate of completion to the address submitted on the Technovation registration form.
  • Guinness World Record Attempt

  • Join us to break a coding world record! On Friday, 12/11 from 4-5p, we will be hosting a virtual workshop to help the MI Accelerate CS initiative break the Guinness World Record for "Most Users To Take An Online Computer Program Lesson Within 24 Hours." More information can be found here—we will send a reminder and Zoom link to all Technovation participants as the event approaches! If you are interested, be sure to register at the link above by 11:59p on Monday, 12/7.
  • Spartan Girls Who Code*

  • SGWC, an outreach program organized by MSU Women in Engineering and the Department of Computer Science, will kick off on January 23, 2021 and run for 10 weeks through 3/27. Like Technovation, SGWC will be fully virtual, hosted on Zoom from 10a-12p on Saturday mornings. For more information and to register your interest for the Spring 2021 program, follow this link.

We've come a long way from Week 1: just six weeks ago, we could only guess what loops, functions, variables and user input were all about. In fact, we'd still be shaky on our definition of a computer program! We didn't yet fully understand the difference between writing code and running code—now, the distinction is obvious.

That said, the journey is far more important than the final destination. Team Technovation has had a blast along the way, and we hope your students have, too. From our perspective, completing exercises and covering new content isn't nearly as important as having fun and cultivating curiosity—there's plenty of time to learn the technical details later on.

It only takes a spark of passion to ignite a future in computing, and we hope we've provided that spark.

To spark conversation at our final session, we opened with another set of (not-so) serious questions. If you're looking for a fun Thanksgiving dinner debate, they're sure to get folks talking!

  1. Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or 1 horse-sized duck?
  2. Would you rather randomly turn into a frog for a day once each month, or randomly turn into a bird for a day once each week?

Our weekly icebreaking meme compilation was a hit, as always—we're looking forward to Thanksgiving!

Switching up our usual routine, we dove into code immediately after our icebreaker. Students reviewed all they've learned over the course of Technovation in breakout rooms and combined loops, functions, variables and user input to code their own creations at this week's session, moving beyond scripted exercises to realize their own vision. We especially loved Anisha and Haresh's drawings—thanks for sharing them with us!

Anisha and Haresh: keep an eye on your mail for a surprise from the Technovation Team in recognition of your hard work!

This week's spotlight followed our coding session, and featured our mentors—each shared their personal story with computer science, including how they first decided to study computer science, what they enjoy about the field, what projects they've made with code, and what advice they have to students interested in pursuing a future in STEM. They also shared a number of resources students can use to continue their journey in computing—check out the slides below! Also, be sure to check out our resources page right here on the Technovation website.

To end the Fall 2020 session on a high note, we played a friendly round of Technovation trivia on Kahoot, answering questions about Python, spotlights, mentors, and computer science in general. Our champions were Aadarshini, Nysha and Raquel, though the competition was intense—there were a number of close runners-up! If you'd like to challenge one of your friends to a game of Technovation trivia, you can access the Kahoot at this link.

Aadarshini, Nysha and Raquel: keep an eye on your mail for a surprise from the Technovation Team in recognition of your Kahoot skills!

That's all for the fall, Technovators—it's been a pleasure working with each and every one of you, and we hope you've had as much fun as we have. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for bearing with us through the first-ever virtual Technovation—your enthusiasm, energy, and smiles are the reason we love to do what we do. We've found joy in the community that Technovation has brought during these trying times, and with solace in the normalcy it has restored. Before we know it, we'll be back in person—but in the meantime, we're glad we were able to make the most of the circumstances.

Have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

–The Technovation Team

* In achieving its goals, Spartan Girls Who Code does not unlawfully discriminate. All events and programs are open to students of all genders.

Week 5

Learning to Listen

Turtles can't talk—but they can listen!

Indeed, turtles can hear music in real life, just as our Python Turtle can "listen" for user input and make decisions accordingly. Pretty neat, eh?

This week, students harnessed the power of user input to tell their turtle how to draw certain parts of their picture on-the-fly!

Before we dive into a full recap of the 11/14 meeting, a few notes:

    Office Hours

  • We will be hosting office hours on Thursday (11/19) from 4p-5p and Friday (11/20) from 4p-5p—we encourage you to join if you'd like to dive deeper or just talk about code! Office hours will be hosted at with passcode "GoGreen!" (no quotes).
  • Technovation Showcase

  • In order to celebrate our students' hard work, we invite you to email us ( a screenshot of your student's favorite Python Turtle creation from the fall. Submissions will be showcased this Saturday!
  • Final Meeting

  • Believe it or not, Saturday (11/21) will be our final meeting! Join us at with passcode "GoGreen!" anytime after 9:50a. We will conclude at 12p.

As usual, our (not-so) serious icebreaker questions spurred quite the conversation this week:

  1. Would you rather have an elephant-sized hamster or a hamster-sized elephant?
  2. Would you rather be able to swim without needing to hold your breath or fly?

An elephant-sized hamster sounds a bit terrifying, while a hamster-sized elephant sounds adorable—but we agreed that density matters! Does the weight of each scale with the size? Swimming without needing air and flying each bring a unique upside—in this case, we agreed speed matters! How fast can we swim or fly?

While engaging in this debate, students found gifs, memes and other images to describe their experience with virtual learning. It's a struggle, but at least we can all laugh about it!

Students getting creative to describe their experience with virtual learning.

Our weekly spotlights aim to showcase all that's possible in the world of computer science, and typically spur discussion by way of a video feature or guest speaker. This week's spotlight was a bit different—rather than hear about what's possible with computer science, students had the opportunity to see what's possible themselves.

Students explored the broad array of demos, widgets and apps featured on the Experiments with Google site, sharing their favorite links with the group and joining together to try out various multiplayer experiments. A few favorites included the Shared Piano, the Quick, Draw! experiment, the Art Coloring Book, and the Draw to Art experiment. Ask your student to show you how each experiment works, and how computer science connects to art and music!

Student favorites from Experiments with Google.

Motivated by these experiments to make our own art with code, we dove back into our exploration of Python Turtle in breakout rooms for the rest of the meeting. Some groups reviewed loops and functions, while others moved on to learn how to tie user input into their programs to create more sophisticated drawings.

If you're reading this newsletter in an email client or web browser, you've used user input—the very action of typing a URL into a browser or clicking on an email to open it involves user input! Could you imagine if your computer didn't listen to you, and instead opened a random URL or email?

In Python Turtle, we can leverage user input to specify colors, shapes, and sizes on-the-fly: for example, we might ask a user what their favorite color is, then save that information and draw a square in their favorite color. Ask your student how they could use user input to customize this week's drawings, shown below!

How might user input allow us to customize the colors, shapes, and sizes in these drawings?

Next week, we'll wrap up with a review of loops, functions and user input, tackling a few coding challenges and facing off in a friendly trivia competition.

It's crazy to think we're down to our final week of Technovation—as the cliché goes, time flies when you're having fun.

We'll see you Saturday, Technovators!

–The Technovation Team

Week 4

Old Turtle, New Tricks

Given the right trainer, an old dog can certainly learn new tricks—but what about an old turtle?

As our students discovered this week, an old turtle can learn new tricks as well—at least a Python Turtle can! Functions give us a way to teach these new tricks with code, ultimately making our programs simpler and allowing us to do more with less.

Before we dive into a full recap of the 11/7 meeting, a few notes:

    Office Hours

  • We will be hosting office hours on Thursday (11/12) from 4p-5p and Friday (11/13) from 4p-5p—we encourage you to join if you'd like to dive deeper or just talk about code! Office hours will be hosted at with passcode "GoGreen!" (no quotes).
  • Tutoring

  • Our friends at the Capital Area District Libraries have begun offering drop-in online tutoring from 2-9pm each week, free to any student with a CADL library card! Learn more about the program on their website.
  • Next Week

  • Believe it or not, we've only got two meetings left! Join us at with passcode "GoGreen!" anytime after 9:50a this Saturday (11/14) for our second-to-last session. We will conclude at 12p.

If there's one thing 2020 has brought plenty of, it's big, important, heavy questions: there's been no shortage given the pandemic and election alone. As such, we figured we'd open Saturday's meeting with a handful of our own (not-so) important questions:

  1. Would you rather have a pet alligator or a pet talking almond?
  2. Do you think you would last longer against a shark or a tiger?

We had a blast discussing the group's take on each issue: on one hand, we agreed it would be a power move to have a pet alligator—but on the other hand, we agreed a pet talking almond would be the safer choice. Likewise, we agreed that context matters on the second question: a shark wouldn't be much of a challenge on land, while a tiger would be an easy win if we had a few steaks to feed it!

Students then described their past week in gifs, memes and other images—everyone's exhausted from the routine of Zoom classes, screen time and shorter days. Laughing together, we found we're all in the same boat!

Students describing their past week with their favorite memes.

This week's spotlight featured Hadas Bitran, a software engineer working at Microsoft to advance the frontiers of healthcare with technology. Connecting her work to her passion for health and wellbeing, Hadas showed us how a career in computer science can be about so much more than writing code—in her case, it's literally about saving lives! Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, her team has deployed over 1,700 healthcare chatbots in 23 countries to guide patients through symptom checks and telemedicine visits.

Hadas' work seemed to resonate with many of our students—ask yours what they thought about her journey!

Hadas Bitran, a software engineer at Microsoft using technology to improve the patient experience.

Back to our earlier question: what do old turtles, new tricks, and code have to do with one another?

The connection is actually quite straightforward: when writing the code which tells our Python Turtle how to draw a picture, we may teach our turtle new tricks using functions. For example, suppose we want our Python Turtle to draw a square—then, we could explicitly tell our turtle to draw a line and turn left 90 degrees four times over. But wouldn't it be more convenient if we could just create our own square command and tell the turtle to draw a square with that single command? In other words, wouldn't it be easier to teach the turtle to draw a square once, then refer back to that lesson by just commanding our turtle to draw a square?

In fact, this is precisely what functions do! By defining a new command, they allow us to teach our turtle new tricks.

Using functions, we can teach our Python Turtle all kinds of new tricks: how to draw a triangle, how to draw a tree, and how to draw a star!

We'll be introducing user input at next week's meeting to make our programs interactive, bringing things full circle as we approach the end of Technovation 2020.

Stay healthy and happy, Technovators. We'll see you Saturday!

–The Technovation Team

Week 3

On Repeat

What do you do when a new song by your favorite artist comes out? What about when they release a new album? You put it on repeat, of course!

Imagine for a second that Spotify and Apple Music didn't have a repeat button. It'd be incredibly annoying to have to press play again, and again, and again every time you wanted to hear your new jam—wouldn't it?

Believe it or not, we often run into the same problem when writing code! The good news? Just as Spotify and Apple Music have a repeat button, programming languages have loops.

Programming with loops and listening to music on repeat have a lot in common!

Before we dive into a full recap of our exploration of loops and the rest of the Halloween session, a few notes:

We began our session in breakout rooms and worked in small groups through a number of review exercises—after all, practice makes perfect! Recalling the forward, backward, left, right, circle, up, down, goto and color commands we learned last week, students and mentors worked together to recreate some of the drawings below using code.

Warming up our Python Turtle Graphics muscles with a few review exercises.

Next, we celebrated Halloween with a spooky edition of virtual bingo—students had a blast checking off their favorite Halloween movie and video game characters in a fierce race to four-in-a-row! Bingo may be a game of pure chance, but that didn't stop the celebrations and smiles that came with a win. If you'd like to play a round with your family, friends, or classmates, you can access our bingo board here, or make your own with!

Getting spooky with this week's festive icebreaker.

In this week's spotlight, we heard from Zach Lieberman, a pioneer in the space of computational art—Zach's work ties drawing, singing and color science together with technology to create one-of-a-kind pieces unlike anything our students or mentors had seen before. From an app that imitates the sketching process of a human to a pitch-visualizer and custom-built LED light show, Zach exemplifies the fact that computer science can be combined with just about any of one's passions to make a mark.

If you're curious to hear Zach's story, check out the video we showed below. Ask your student what they thought about it!

Zach Lieberman, an artist redefining what's possible with technology.

Let's get back to the question we posed earlier: what would you do without a repeat button on your favorite music app? How would you memorize the lyrics to your new favorite song?

When it comes to coding, we face a similar problem: we often want to tell the computer to do something repetitively, but don't want to deal with the redundancy that comes with manually giving such instructions. Thankfully, all programming languages have their own "repeat button" to work around this problem—we call these "repeat buttons" loops! As the name suggests, a loop simply repeats a snippet of code over and over, and over, and over... until we tell the computer to stop.

To illustrate the power of loops, our students used them to draw the images below at this week's session—think about what sort of repetition comes with drawing each image, and how some action could be put "on repeat" in order to draw each picture. Struggling? Ask your student to explain!

Loops are a powerful tool when dealing with repetition.

Next week, we'll review loops and move on to functions, which simplify our code by effectively "teaching the computer" a new instruction to carry out in a program.

Have a wonderful start to November, Technovators. We'll see you Saturday!

–The Technovation Team

Week 2

Coding, Cereal and Collaboration

If you'd asked our students and mentors what coding and cereal had in common before Saturday's session of Technovation, they'd probably tell you the similarities stopped after the first letter of each word. Perhaps someone would make the pun that they both have a notion of "bites/bytes"—but that's pushing it!

If you asked our students and mentors what coding and cereal have in common now, however, they'd tell you the two are in fact deeply connected. Devan Sayles, an MSU alumna and computer scientist working at General Mills in Minneapolis, MN, joined this week's session and explained the many "bytes" that go into every "bite" of cereal. It's quite fascinating!

Before we dive into a full recap of Devan's message and the rest of the 10/24 session, a few notes:

We kicked off this week's session with an intense debate over the question of whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich as students joined the Zoom link, reaching no official consensus—that said, we saw a number of strong arguments for both sides! We then dispersed into breakout rooms for our real icebreaker of the day, which proved to be a blast: Offering a version of online Pictionary, the site helped us get to know one another while putting our digital artistic skills to the test. If you're looking for a fun icebreaker for your next virtual meeting, we highly recommend.

This week's icebreaker:

Following our icebreaker, we were joined by guest speaker Devan Sayles, an MSU alumna and computer scientist working at General Mills in Minneapolis, MN for this week's spotlight. Discussing her own journey into computer science from the computer games of her childhood to her college experience and life as a professional, Devan reiterated the fact that computer science can take you anywhere and reminded us that coding is fun, even when it's your job ! Connecting the role of data in the food industry to the role of programming in problem-solving, Devan gave us a fascinating look into her work as a data engineer at General Mills while explaining how her team ultimately puts cereal in your bowl every morning.

Join us in thanking Devan for the wonderful talk!

Devan Sayles, MSU alumna and computer scientist working as a data engineer at General Mills in Minneapolis, MN.

Next, we dove into Runestone, picking up where we left off from last week. With the general idea of programming—the process of writing a program, or set of instructions for a computer to follow—under our belt, we worked together in breakout rooms to write a number of basic Python programs, each of which each drew a picture using the Turtle Graphics module. Using the commands forward, backward, left, right, circle, up, down, goto and color one after another, we saw how programming is quite similar to training a dog! Unlike a dog, however, the computer will do exactly what we tell it to—so the key is in ensuring we tell it to do exactly what we want it to do: capitalization, spelling and punctuation included.

Images generated by student-written programs in Python Turtle Graphics.

Though we briefly touched on loops and variables, we'll dive deeper into those concepts at next week's session. After all, there's no point in rushing through content at the expense of fun! We're taking our time to build a foundation—the rest of the structure comes much more easily once the foundation is set.

Happy coding, Technovators! We'll see you next Saturday.

–The Technovation Team

Week 1

New Beginnings

It often feels like 2020 has put our lives on pause—yet, Saturday was an occasion to press "play." Judging by the laughter, smiles and atmosphere, our inaugural virtual Technovation meeting was a success!

Before we dive into a recap of the 10/17 session, a few notes:

Students broke the ice with one another in Zoom "breakout rooms," sharing a handful of images that describe themselves while finding common ground on their favorite foods, sports, TV shows, books and hobbies. Our mentors—current computer science students from MSU—introduced themselves with a game of Kahoot!, sharing fun facts and stories while students tried to guess what made Hannah, Zosha, Sarah, Jonathon, Gigi, Temi, Judy and Andrew unique. To get to know this year's group of students and mentors, check out the slides each individual created during the icebreaker below!

Meet our mentors and students!

Following introductions and virtual team bonding, students filled out a pre-survey to let us know their level of coding experience and what they hoped to get out of this fall's session of Technovation—moving forward, this will help us ensure we tailor, transform and adapt Technovation to the ultimate leaders of our program: the students.

If your student has not yet submitted the pre-survey, please encourage them to do so at this link!

After the pre-survey, we hit the ground running—students logged into to get coding! Runestone is an open-source virtual learning platform built for computer science classes which bundles an interactive textbook with an online coding editor in a single environment, making it the perfect tool for our situation.

The Runestone platform.

Students learned what a computer program really is, what defines a programming language, and what coding is all about through a handful of examples using Python Turtle Graphics. Ask your student to log into Runestone and show you how their first program draws a square from a few lines of code!

Our first program.

Next week, we'll be diving deeper into the fascinating world of Python Turtle Graphics, introducing loops and variables. We hope you're as excited as we are!

Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay positive. See you Saturday!

–The Technovation Team


We hope you’re as excited as we are to kick off the inaugural session of Virtual Technovation this Saturday, October 17th at 10am!

You should have received a confirmation email if we received your Media Release form and Youth Program Consent form, or a reminder email if not.

If you have not yet returned your forms, please do so as soon as possible. You can email them to You cannot participate if we have not received your signed forms.

If you would like to receive text reminders regarding Technovation, sign up for our Remind text service: Text "@f20tech" (without the quotes) to 81010. We will be using this to supplement email for more timely communications throughout the fall!

You should have received a message with this information and the Zoom link on Thursday. If you did not, please send mail to

Fall 2020

We’re excited to announce that Technovation will be offered virtually this fall!

In alignment with the guidance of Ingham County public health officials, Technovation will be offered Saturday mornings from 10a-12p via Zoom in a fully-remote format, beginning 10/17 and ending 11/21.

Join us as we embark on a 6-week adventure, and prepare to have a blast!

Founded in 2018, Technovation is an MSU student-led coding club introducing Lansing-area 6-12th grade students to the wide world of computer science. Combining games and mini-projects with guest speakers and team-building activities, Technovation is more than just another extracurricular—it’s a community. We believe coding should be fun, and we aim to make it so!

Program Details

If you don't know how to code, we'll teach you. If you do know how to code, we'll teach you to code better.

Technovation is a program for everyone—anybody can learn to code!

Registration for the Fall 2020 session is closed, but we'd love to stay in touch. To register your interest for future offerings of virtual coding clubs offered by MSU, visit the link below.

Interest Form

We'll see you soon. In the meantime, stay healthy, stay safe, and stay positive. Be like Sparty—wear a mask!

–The Technovation Team

Prior Clubs

Check out what students accomplished in prior offerings of Technovation.

Fall 2019 Technovation

Fall 2018 Technovation