On October 1st and 2nd, the CS4All team engaged the NYC community in our mission of bringing computer science (CS) education to every one of NYC’s 1.1 million students at the World Maker Faire in Queens, NY . Our goals were to get kids interested in learning computer science and to get parents and educators to tell us what they believe the benefits of CS are for their children.
To engage children we adapted an activity from artist and technologist Amelia Winger-Bearskin. In the activity, the “programmer” draws shapes on each line of code. The shapes match up to language parts of speech. For each part of speech we have a small bucket with many different words. When the programmer runs their code, they choose words that match their shapes and generate a funny poem that they must read out loud like a poet!
Educators can tell children they are developing their own algorithm using the shapes and, depending on the children, also talk about how the shapes matching to parts of speech is also an algorithm.
Find all materials for the activity here!
We engaged parents in an activity based on the work of our partners at TytheDesign (http://communitycensus.us/) to prioritize how learning CS benefits their children. We gave parents a length of colored yarn based on their borough and asked them to tie it to three of eight potential benefits of learning CS. Parents expressed that Design Thinking Skills, Persistence, a Passion for Learning and Creative Confidence were the most important benefits to them. When asked what they thought Design Thinking was parents said that they felt it was the practice of breaking down problems and “thinking outside the box”.