Elementary school students introduced to STEM

Sydney McDonald , Reporter

CSEdWeek, or computer science education week, takes place each year to spread awareness about the importance of computer science and give students easier access to it.

Third grade teacher Richard Booth of Bath Elementary School, tweeted with the hashtag #CSEdWeek while showing an image of his students learning coding through one of the programs provided under #CSEdWeek.

Booth appreciated this week because it gives him a chance to incorporate coding into his daily lessons.

“Because there are so many people that are so tired of the curriculum, it’s hard to purposely integrate computer science and coding especially in the elementary grades,” Booth said.

To help with his activities that week, the company TECH CORPS provided resources and programs for his students to work with.

“[TECH CORPS] tries to do computer science integrated with math. [They] look at computational fluency and are looking at the algorithms behind coding without actually looking at [the] coding baseline,” Booth said.

Booth began working with Tech Corps in their teaching programs about five years ago. The company started in Columbus and soon began to expand throughout the state.

Regional Manager of Northeast Ohio for Tech Corps Michelle Moore explained the collaboration between Revere and Tech Corps years ago. E4Tech is a 120 hour teacher course to provide ways that teachers can learn to engage students in STEM.

“The project has been implemented through multi-week sessions during the summer as well as through weekend sessions throughout a school year,” Moore said.
Since the success of the E4Tech project over the years, TECH CORPS and the Teaching & Learning Collaborative created the hashtag #CutOut4CS.

“[#CutOut4CS] is a two-day professional development model and lessons for teachers in grades three through four . . . using a cookie design scenario and object-oriented programming language [called Scratch], #CutOut4CS focuses on content standards in Operations & Algebraic Thinking,” Moore said.

Booth used the programs provided from lessons like this one for his class. Although TECH CORPS no longer implements the E4Tech project in Revere Local School District, the teachers are still benefiting from the activities that occur during #CSEdWeek.

“They sponsored the lesson I did that week [since] they were using the workspace in scratch to design a scene and the other users had to be able to tell what was happening just based on hitting play and running their program,” Booth said.
Scratch allows students to tap into their creativity while also utilizing basic coding skills. Booth uses programs like Scratch because it allows him to have some variety in what he does in his classes.

“The creativity piece is really why I started to do things like that because so much of what we do is so scripted and so slated that if we can infuse some creativity and give them the chance to make something, to me that makes education more worthwhile,” Booth said.

While spreading computer science resources through #CSEdWeek, it also exists to advocate for equity within the STEM community.

Marketing and communications manager of the Computer Science Teachers Association, Stacy Jeziorowski, references what CSTA and #CSEdWeek are doing to promote equity. In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, CSTA released a statement in support of the movement as they push for equity with STEM students of all races. CSTA provides awareness and also monetary support to the computer science teachers who need it.

“Additionally, we are providing scholarship opportunities for teachers who are unable to pay for our programming,” Jeziorowski said.

CSTA and with #CSEdWeek, CSTA hopes to provide ample opportunities to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

“Without access to rigorous computer science and STEM courses, underrepresented students have limited opportunities and aspirations to develop computing knowledge,” Jeziorowski said.

With the help of awareness initiatives like #CSEdWeek and also programs that are willing to provide for schools, outer science will be able to reach every student with the available resources.