Bringing Computer Science Education to Young Students in North Carolina

June 12, 2020

CSbyUS students.
Middle school students celebrate computer science.

As technology continues to transform our world, it is vital that all students have access to high-quality computer science instruction and tools to become agile and creative computational thinkers.

For the past two years, a Bass Connections team has been working to ensure that students in North Carolina have access to opportunities to learn computer science, with a particular focus on engaging female-identifying students and students of color who have traditionally been underrepresented in STEM fields.

In 2018-2019, after researching the state of computer science education and finding that students most benefit from community-tailored, student-centered curricula, the team developed an innovative, customizable, open source computer science curriculum that they delivered to middle school-aged learners in an after school setting in Durham.

Team members extended their program – CsbyUs – and its pedagogy to communities across the United States where it is taught by a growing network of undergraduate mentors who create personalized lessons and activities for their communities. Through CSbyUs, young students have learned technical skills, built mobile applications and gained exposure to diverse technology-based career pathways.

CSbyUS students and mentors.
Facilitators, undergraduate mentors and middle school students pose during Duke’s “Day of Data” in Spring 2019.

In 2019-2020, in partnership with #IAmCS – a campaign to make computer science education and careers accessible to all girls in North Carolina – the team worked with Mary Hemphill, director of Computer Science & Technology Education at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, and the state of North Carolina to design a 15-hour open source computer science curriculum, comprised of 30-minute modules, for third, fourth and fifth graders. The team tested the curriculum in Durham public schools and, in Fall 2020, will make the lessons, accompanying materials and assessment data available for public comment. Ultimately, if the curriculum is adopted for statewide implementation, it will go into every third, fourth and fifth grade classroom in North Carolina.

Explore this team’s story, vision and curriculum by visiting the CSbyUs website and watching their introductory video.

Discover what open source learning means and check out the #IAmCS campaign by viewing this lightning talk from team leader Aria Chernik and Mary Hemphill.

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