A little over a year ago I was in Los Angeles with a group of educators that have and will forever impact me as an educator. I was selected as a Google Innovator for the #LAX18 cohort and I never imagined what an impact this #Edventure would have on me. Fast forward to this last Summer, the culmination of my project and goals. So what did I accomplish? Well, here is a recap and a mini-how to guide for anyone looking to bring more computer science to their community, but first we have to go back... way back.
I was a senior in high school and I got accepted to UC Irvine as a Civil Engineering major. I chose engineering because I truly enjoyed physics with Mr. Toigo. See, my exposure to different careers had been limited, most of my academic successes I attribute to my teachers, they played a huge part in my life but that is for another post. Nevertheless physics was great and engineering seemed right up my alley. I got to UC Irvine and my first class ever was python. I struggled... yes there was productive struggle but my peers were flying!
"How do you know this already," said the silly boy.
"Easy, I had this class in high school," replied the coding whiz.
Fast forward to my teaching career. This local boy came back to teach at his alma mater to become a local teacher. I love my community and it is very important for me to give back to the community that raised me. When I came back to the valley I realized that we still did not have an established computer science pathway. Finally, last year when presented with the question for my Google application, what problem do you want to fall in love with?
How can I bring computer science to my community?
The Innovator Experience
Geeky Game Nights
The idea was pretty straight forward, expose as many families as possible to computer science in a fun and low risk scenario. We eventually settled on bring Geeky Game Nights to four locations, the public library, two schools within my district, and a local community center. But what was Geeky Game Nights? Well I went with what I know and created a station rotation model for exposing families to different aspect of CS, technology, and games.
I was looking to get families to talk to their children about computer science in a structured fashion. We provide food for families, promote the event, provide the materials or leverage materials that already exist at the location.
WIth everything said and done, I felt proud of these nights but it did not feel like the reach was wide or deep enough. It was progress though and I am very grateful that this school year we will have eight game nights at multiple locations in my community.
Amazon Future Engineers
This was not part of my project but happened serendipitously at the time of Geeky Game Nights. I applied for Amazon Future Engineers on behalf of our school district. I am happy to report that our school district is currently offereing AP Computer Science courses at all all of our high schools. This is one accomplishment that makes me super proud. Our students, my community, has gained access to speak the language of the future. My children that attend Palm Springs USD will have access that was not afforded to me and for that I am forever grateful.
Creator Camp and Final Thoughts
The last part of this happy story is Creator Camp. I was fortunate enough to take the concept of Geeky Game Nights and turn it into a camp for 2nd graders. Again we used station rotations where we explored Coding on the Microbits and Dash Robots, 3D printing, and Design thinking, Presentation for Day One is below:
If any educator out there needs a place to start or wants any details on what I just wrote about please reach out. Thank you for reading and learning with me.