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Google Clubs Help Kids Get Into Computer Science

Google Clubs Help Kids Get Into Computer Science

An Arizona middle school teacher who gave Google CS First—a Google program designed to provide computer science enrichment materials to students—a try recommends it to teachers everywhere.

According to Janice Mak in an article on ESchoolNews.com, she found Google CS First when looking for materials to help her teach computer science to her students.

"I might not have known what I was getting into, but I knew that I would do anything to inspire my students to grow and learn in all areas of STEM, but in particular, computer science," she said, according to the article.

Running in eight-day sessions, Google's CS FIrst's modules "are engaging and cover a variety of themes ... They include informative screencast tutorials that make it easy for both students and volunteers to follow along," she said.

The first day of the sessions includes an overview of the club and the Scratch platform- the coding platform that "uses building blocks to form commands." From there, students are led through tutorials guided to help them begin to start their own projects.

The modules themselves cover different themes such as "Sound and Music," Game Design," and "Storytelling," and each one has different corresponding projects for students to work on.

"In building these projects, the students are sequentially introduced to various 'blocks' that perform key functions, such as the repeat loop and if-then commands. These help build the foundation in computational thinking so that they gradually gain the confidence and ability to tweak and create their own versions of these initial projects," she said.

Mak described her experience as nothing but great, saying that the program created an engaging and supportive environment that her students liked so much, they began taking initiative on their projects away from official club times—something Google CS First encourages.

She also appreciated how easy it was to get started: "Simply signing in with a Google account under the 'Get Started' section of the CS First website will start the ball rolling, and there are training resources to help teachers and volunteers to get a feel for what a typical CS First session will look like (support staff also respond to concerns almost immediately)," she said, according to the article.

Mak was specifically looking for a way to get girls more involved in computer science and coding, and said that the Google program enabled her to start a "girl's lunchtime coding club" that has "ignited" their interest and possibly altered their career trajectory.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

04/24/15

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