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Who knew teaching a kid to code for a week would have such a huge impact on their grades?

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Let's face it: Technology rules everything around us.

GIF via "Terminator 2."


Chances are that you're probably reading this article on your laptop while simultaneously watching a video about marine iguanas on your tablet and squeezing in a game of Angry Birds on your smartphone to boot ... right?

But despite our almost complete dependence on technology in daily life, why haven't we really integrated technology into our schools' curriculums?

It probably has to do with how tech education programs are expensive.

Just ask the teachers of Englewood in Chicago.

Image via iStock.

Once a sprawling metropolis that housed Chicago's second-largest shopping district, Englewood has seen its poverty levels rise to a staggering 42% — well above the 15% national average — during the last 15 years. With that, population numbers have decreased, crime rates have increased (Englewood currently ranks in the top 10 most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago), and the number of high school graduates has dropped off, according to the Chicago Tribune.

It's safe to say the teachers in this area would agree that expensive tech programs might seem like a luxury when most of their students don't have the basics.

It's not great.

But what if cities like Englewood could afford to teach technology in schools?


Image via Project Tech Teens/Facebook, used with permission.

After all, teaching technology skills to kids could lead to better, higher-paying jobs for them in the future, which has the potential to lower crime rates and build a stronger economy.

It's worth a try.

Founded by Scott Steward and Glenn Pereira in 2013, Project Tech Teens is trying just that.

The uniquely ambitious program is designed to harness the untapped potential of teenagers from underserved communities, teaching them the art (and science ... mostly science) of things like coding, computer science, and computer engineering.

How exactly do they plan on doing this? Through apps, obviously.

"The idea behind Tech Teens is that we can create stronger critical thinking skills and more engagement in schooling using mobile app development as the caveat," Steward told Upworthy.

"Kids are addicted to these devices. ... So we decided that we needed to create a pipeline of young people who were engaged in technology and could start studying engineering and maybe go to college."


Image via Project Tech Teens/Facebook, used with permission.

Project Tech Teens currently offers a variety of programs for students of all ages in a few cities.

In the past couple of years, Project Tech Teens has expanded to over 500 students in schools across St. Louis, Houston, and Detroit. The programs include a one-week residential summer Tech Boot Camp and a more focused, six-week Saturday Hackathon aimed at finding the Steve Jobs of tomorrow.

At these seminars, students are often broken into teams and assigned with the task of thinking up, building, and eventually pitching their apps to potential investors "Shark Tank"-style.


Thankfully, Kevin O'Leary is not actually included. GIF via "Shark Tank."

The results so far have been astounding.

Last year, Project Tech Teens students designed a Guess That Lyric app that challenges users' musical knowledge and a Food Is Life app that helps children learn food groups. Both of these apps and several more were presented as part of a joint program between Project Tech Teens and Teamwork Englewood and were met with incredible acclaim by local community members.

Plus, inside the schools themselves, members of Project Tech Teens are seeing their test scores rise an average of 40%.

"To have students go from this no-tech or low-tech delivery model, where we take this complex understanding of this foreign language and make it really, really digestible, it opens the door for all kinds of learning," Steward said. "Not only can students produce these really cool apps, but they're also coming in now and saying, 'Look at my grades.'"

This is the first step in linking the insanely profitable computer science industry to struggling schools.

Image via Scott Steward of Project Tech Teens, used with permission.

At just $140 for the initial course (which includes a free lunch each day, a free t-shirt, and, oh yeah, a free laptop among other things), Project Tech Teens is redefining "relevant education" in neighborhoods that arguably need this redefinition the most. In doing so, they're providing future leaders with the fundamentals to build a better world around them.

"We're trying to help students make better decisions, be stronger critical thinkers, see the connection between what they do and how it affects their life, and then see the possibilities," Steward said. "We want the students to say 'What if?' and see this as an opportunity to create sustainable, generational wealth for themselves and their families."

Programs like Project Tech Teens are an awesome example of inclusivity and forward-thinking.

They provide not only the short-term benefits of bringing kids off the street and providing them with a safe place to learn, but teach them a valuable skill that could benefit their communities years down the road. We need more of these.

Without the tech-savvy teens of today, who else will be able to lead us to victory in the inevitable cybernetic wars of tomorrow?

Certainly not this guy. GIF via "Terminator 2."

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

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Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

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A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

A parenting influencer who goes by the name @ellethevirgo on TikTok has shared a brilliant hack that can turn a simple box of Cheerios into a fun sensory sand experience. The great part is that the sand is edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child puts some in their mouth, which they will inevitably do.

The recipe for Cheerios sensory sand is pretty simple:

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Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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