Teaching Programming through Hair Braiding, Quilting & Latin Percussion

Interview date:

July 13, 2020

Dr. Ron Eglash

University of Michigan

Dr. Ron Eglash, a professor in the University of Michigan's School of Information and its School of Art and Design, talks about his pioneering research in the field of ethnocomputing. Ethnocomputing celebrates the computing principles and algorithms found in Indigenous and ethnic communities through their arts and crafts, architecture, dance and cultural rituals. He describes himself as "part computer scientist, part anthropologist" and develops school curriculum to bring computing to life for students from groups under-represented in technology.

"Science and technology are done differently in these Indigenous traditions than they are in Europe. Europe is all about economies of extraction so science and technology are specifically created for the purpose of extracting value and carrying it off elsewhere to a corporation or a colonizing nation. In these Indigenous cultures, their science and technology were developed for the purpose of preventing extraction and emphasizing sharing and the circulation of value in this unalienated state."


  • teach kids how Indigenous knowledge has powered today's science and tech
  • use non-coding activities to introduce kids to computing: weaving, hair braiding, quilting, dancing
  • teach kids about technology in the context of social justice