This week, as part of Computer Science Education Week, we are highlighting the personal side of Computer Science and STEM/STEAM. To do that, we’ve gathered some of Chicago’s best teachers in Computer Science to highlight the work that CS and STEM education does for our city. Our next blog, from Kimberly Cripe of Rachel Carson Elementary School, asks how we can prepare our students for a technological future.
Computer Science has not only challenged me as a teacher, but it has also challenged all members of our school to continue to ask ourselves, “How are we preparing our students for the future?”
As teachers, we want to open the door to every possible opportunity for our students. It seems strange that teaching computer science is such a new concept in a technology-driven world. In the seats of our classrooms are the next-generation Gates, Jobs, and Zuckerbergs—they just didn’t know it was even a possibility UNTIL NOW! The efforts of Code.org and its partners have provided this platform for our school. Students from K-8 are currently participating in coding activities on a weekly basis. On December 9, we at Rachel Carson participated in Code.org’s “Hour of Code.” This is a time to unite as a school, celebrate our successes with coding, and remember the possibilities are endless!
So often you hear of technology as a tool for instruction or student learning, but it is very rare to hear that technology IS what students are learning. When I first learned about the Code.org program from my principal, I jumped at the chance to participate in professional development to have computer science complement my science curriculum. The new standards ask our students to think critically and scientifically as they define problems and create solutions, build and modify models, and plan and carry out investigations. The concepts that are introduced while coding mirror these Next Generation Science Standards.
Coding provides one more outlet to make learning engaging, meaningful and allow students to feel successful. From the apps they use to the video games they play, students are able to take a step back and engage with technology in a new and purposeful way. It has been so exciting to see students tackle a subject they once perceived as “scary” and “intimidating” and discover the mystery behind the computer screen.
Kimberly Cripe is a Middle School Science Teacher at Rachel Carson Elementary on Chicago’s southwest side (recently level 1+). She has been teaching for the past 5 years. Before becoming a teacher she worked as a lab scientist in both pharmaceutical and research labs.