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Last month’s Insight article, Bringing Computer Science to Underrepresented Students ended with an encouragement for educators to pique student interest in computer science through coding.  Coding is computer programming and can be fun and empowering as students create games and apps for their own purpose and enjoyment.  So, how might we engage all students, specifically females and ethnic minorities?

Getting Students to the “WOW”
Awaken the Dreamer.   Call attention to the relevance of computer coding.  It is all around us –if something requires electricity to run, chances are someone has written code to make it operate.  Share stories of how computer coding has been used to solve problems, create life-saving medical robotics, and allowed the impaired greater freedoms.

Provide Encouragement.  Engage role models from local organizations (i.e. business, universities, school district, hospitals). Many have policies to encourage employees to engage with students in grades K-12.  Talk with the community outreach representative of these entities to identify female and ethnic minority employees who specialize in computer related jobs to serve as role models for students.  Someone along the way encouraged 17 year old Brittany Wenger to code.  She won the Google Science Fair by writing a program that makes breast cancer detection more accurate, more affordable, and less painful to the patient.  Imagine if the student you encouraged was the next Brittany.

Create Opportunities.  Be intentional about ways to increase access to coding through:
  • Providing a related arts coding class
  • Establishing a before or after school coding club
  • Allowing lunchtime access to computer labs
  • Encouraging use of classroom computers during classroom enrichment or extended learning times
Think “Cool” and Comfortable.    Consider the space design as well.  Is it attractive to females and minorities? Or is it the typical computer room setup that many consider the “geek room” and wish to have no part of?   Is it a space students can relax, share and be creative?  Do students want to hang-out here?

Overcoming Barriers
“I’m not a “computer person”?  Teachers do not have to be coders in order to engage their students in coding. Being knowledgeable of resources will help in guiding students.  However, if you are interested, start with programs that are self-guiding and explore coding along with your students.

“I don’t have time!”  Utilize the wealth of available resources such as   All visitors to this website are encouraged to sign the “Diversity Pledge” by agreeing that, “Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.” uses a diverse group of successful individuals from business, sports, and the entertainment industry to target students in underrepresented groups.

“I wouldn’t know how to start.”  There is no better time than now to jump in and get your feet wet.  Participate in an Hour of Code December 7 – 13, 2015, during Computer Science Education Week. This one hour introduction to computer science, according to the Hour of Code website is to, “demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.”  The site further states that they are dedicated to increasing participation in coding by women and underrepresented students of color.   

Creating Sustainable Initiatives
While vast resources can be found online, you may want a bit more guidance and support to create sustainable initiatives based on our academic priorities and student population.  Our staff at S2TEM Centers SC can guide and encourage you along the way.  Contact your local office for additional resources.  We are here to help

Upcoming Events

December 10, 2015
Upstate STEM Collaborative Meeting, 2:00-4:00 pm
University Center, Greenville, SC

January 13 - March 29, 2016
Understanding Measurement in the Elementary Classroom:  Teaching from a Student Centered Perspective
Online Course
January 13 - March 29, 2016
Content and Applications for Middle Level Mathematics with a Student Centered Perspective
Online Course
January 13 - March 29, 2016
Understanding Geometry: Teaching from a Student Centered Perspective
Online Course

February 6, 2016
Charleston STEM Festival
Charleston, SC

February 26, 2016 K-5 Curriculum Workshop
Spartanburg,, SC 29303

March 10, 2016 K-5 Curriculum Workshop
Rock Hill, SC

March 23, 2016
Lowcountry Regional STEM Symposium
Trident Technical College, N. Charleston, SC
April 2, 2016
iMAGINE Upstate Festival
Greenville, SC

What S2TEM Centers SC clients say about their Professional Learning Experience...

"The S2TEM (Experience) gave me other ideas that would help me engage my students more...use different strategies in math to help students understand math concepts and break down strategies that would help them become more successful."

Mary Bradley, Teacher
Marshall Elementary, Orangeburg 5
 Learning Strategies Workshop
“The class was great! I will be able to incorporate learning strategies taught.  I will use the information to help my students with understanding and creating concrete knowledge.”

Cindy Berry, Teacher
Edisto Elementary, Orangeburg 5
Disciplinary Literacy, Learning Strategies Workshop

Copyright © 2015 South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science at Clemson University, All rights reserved.

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