Coffee Chat with Charlotte Cheng '04

Charlotte Cheng majored in Symbolic Systems as an undergrad and completed her M.A. in Elementary Education at Stanford School of Education. She is currently a curriculum product manager for Wonder Workshop, where she designs curriculum and products that help teachers use educational robots in the classroom.

Eric Zelikman ‘20 wrote the following recap of the coffee chat we had with Charlotte on February 13.

We met with Charlotte Cheng and we talked about how she had gotten involved with Wonder Workshop. Using scratch-like blocks and the iPad she brought, we played with coding two models of really adorable robots. We talked about what it's like being into EdTech at Stanford; in the past, apparently nobody had heard of it, and now, a lot of niches in the field are targeted. People in the field were there for really diverse reasons, and mostly everyone was involved in a different area of the space, having been involved with organizations focused on teaching music, language learning, learning more abstractly, etc. This inspired some discussion of the value that the "jack-of-all-trades" nature of SymSys can bring to someone not working directly on the technical side, especially in a more startup environment. We discussed community outreach, and how an increasingly large company can address the needs and interests of many groups of kids. We talked about the value of user-testing and how a lot of coding-teaching tech ends up producing products targeted at boys unintentionally, because young boys and girls have very different motivations for wanting to learn to code in the first place. From that, we also discussed how useful it was to have some actual experience as a teacher, both because it helps talk with teachers and to know what won't work. We also spent some time on opportunities, highlighting how useful the is, the class at Bing Nursery on child development, and a few education-focused groups on campus. At the end she suggested if anyone there was interested in interning with the company, they should reach out to her. Overall, it was a really positive experience and it was cool to see these really varied reasons for coming there to all kind of come together.