• UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Revamped Gauchos Win Back-to-Back Matches in Home Doubleheader https://t.co/jhnkYqqbPZ
    9 hours 2 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    .@UCSB_Baseball pitching staff combines to allow just one ER on Saturday, but Gauchos were narrowly edged out 2-1 b… https://t.co/XXMPf7zJMt
    11 hours 4 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    https://t.co/KqzqgGnFPM https://t.co/5Eb29pejx5
    11 hours 18 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    No. 17 UCSB Splits the Day with Win, Loss in Barbara Kalbus Invitational https://t.co/FjOu7m7yVi
    11 hours 37 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Sweet Senior Night for UCSB After Thrilling Comeback Victory https://t.co/JvMB1rM2PU
    11 hours 37 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    https://t.co/MDKMoaJ0S9 https://t.co/q86tSC4ix0
    12 hours 24 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    https://t.co/7jIxHyvaT4 https://t.co/I1ZzkaW5oM
    12 hours 25 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    King Leads the Way as Gauchos Bounce Back at CSUN, 82-73 https://t.co/xetzeO9GgK
    12 hours 25 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Walk-Off Win Highlights Day Three of Gaucho Classic I https://t.co/YVRwLO1AYO
    12 hours 32 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Gauchos Drop 5-2 Decision Against No. 40 Utah https://t.co/UG0MH8Q465
    13 hours 11 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    In a unique evening of Chinese culture, the brilliant pipa master @wumanpipa and #HuayinShadowPuppetBand will perfo… https://t.co/vQVQPQYGp2
    15 hours 4 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    RT @sbseasons: Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour's 27th year in Santa Barbara 2/27-28 https://t.co/fmdyBe2Uxj @sbseasons #SBFilm @Art
    17 hours 22 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    RT @carmenmccain: This week, I went to hear #MatthewDesmond @just_shelter speak at UCSB @ArtsandLectures on how evictions are behind much o…
    17 hours 22 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    @SRodgerBock @AstroTerry @NatGeoLive @NatGeoBooks @NatGeoPR We’ll have copies for sale at the event through… https://t.co/HLBciQPq9t
    17 hours 22 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    RT @jbk14mv10: Saving a wetlands preserve from invasive weeds...pretty nice little Saturday...#GauchosGiveBack https://t.co/TaqsCjx8V3
    19 hours 28 min ago

Computer Science for All

The Gevirtz School at UCSB answers Obama’s call with new curriculum for kids
Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - 14:45
Santa Barbara, CA

ucsb-gevirtz-computer-science-for-all.jpg

Computer science for kids at Gevirtz School

The Gevirtz School at UCSB is responding to the President Obama’s call for improved access to computer science instruction by studying how elementary school students learn the subject.

Photo Credit: 

Courtesy image

In his final State of the Union speech, President Obama exhorted the American educational system to ensure that every student in the country gets hands-on computer science and math training to set them up for success in college and careers alike. Shortly thereafter, he announced the Computer Science for All Initiative to increase access to just such courses.

The Gevirtz School at UC Santa Barbara is responding to the president’s call by studying how elementary school students learn computer science, in an effort led by Danielle Harlow, an associate professor of education at Gevirtz, and Diana Franklin, a former UCSB computer science faculty member now at the University of Chicago.

Working with graduate students and local teachers, Harlow and Franklin created Kids Engaged in Learning Programming and Computer Science (KELP-CS), a modular curriculum for fourth- through sixth-graders. The modules consist of 13-14 hours of computer science instruction, during which students complete activities either in the classroom or in a computer lab.

For the activities, students use a block-based programming environment called LaPlaya, where they snap together commands, or blocks, to create longer lines of code, or scripts. It’s a more intuitive and basic method, educators say, than typing individual lines of code as one would in traditional programming languages such as Java or C++.

“Students are always excited to share what they’ve created, or help others who are struggling,” said Ali Hansen, a UCSB graduate student who teaches KELP-CS at a local elementary school. “I don’t think a class period goes by without hearing a student exclaim, ‘Aha!’ or ‘I figured it out!’ or ‘I did it!’” 

In the first KELP-CS module, students learn the computer programming skills they need to create a digital story. Module two instructs them in the skills required to design a game. And in both modules, students complete lessons in the engineering design process — a key component of the Next Generation Science Standards for K-12.

“Although researchers are beginning to understand how best to teach computer science at the high-school level and middle-school level, we know comparatively little about effective instruction at the K-5 level,” Harlow said. “Our team, in its fourth year of research, has examined how children in fourth- through sixth-grade understand various computer science concepts, such as initialization, and what skills, such as language/reading, physics and mathematics, are required to complete our curriculum.”

The work goes beyond teaching computer science. As Harlow added, “Underrepresented groups have also been studied in our work, including English Language Learner (ELLs) and students with disabilities. We have also been helping teachers incorporate computer science in the classroom by connecting our curriculum to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards and providing other tips for teachers.”

The knowledge and skills imparted by computer science also enable innovation and open doors. Many fields of science and business depend on computer science and an increasing number of jobs require skills in computing technologies — a trend sure to grow as computing becomes embedded more deeply in everyday commerce and society. As Diana Franklin puts it, “If K–12 schools are seeking to make students college- and career-ready, computer science should be part of the core curriculum.”

Obama’s Computer Science for All Initiative recognizes that increasing the opportunities for elementary school children — especially girls and other underrepresented minority groups — to learn computer science is an essential aspect of preparing students for computer science careers as well as technology-centered society. Gaining a deeper knowledge of computer science and its fundamental aspects is essential not only to have a clear understanding of “what is going on under the hood” of computer software or hardware, but also to develop critical thinking skills that will serve a student throughout his or her life.

 

Contact Info: 

George Yatchisin
(805) 893-5789
george@education.ucsb.edu

Topics: