This project aims to build new onramps for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school students and teachers into computer science (CS) through digital making experiences. Leveraging more than a decade of experience leading digital making experience for Chicago teens, the Museum of Science and Industry and Chicago Public Library seek to purse the opportunity to innovative learning experiences for CPS youth in light of three recent developments: 1) the 2013 Computer Science for All initiative launched within CPS, 2) the 2016 mandate making computer science a CPS graduation requirement, and 3) and the 2016 Computer Science for All commitment by the Obama administration.
Given citywide experience and success with digital making (which often involves CS), there is a unique opportunity to help those schools and teachers become oriented with the new CS requirements through the maker lens. We believe the barriers to CS entry can be lowered, educators of all disciplines can participate, and youth can learn CS and its practical applications in ways that set them up for academic success and perhaps even motivate them to pursue CS-related activities, post-secondary study or careers.
The research and planning phase (fall 2016) will focus on assessing the current needs, resources and challenges of CPS teachers in teaching computer science and exploring alignment with the digital making work led by the project partners. we will conduct a review of the relevant literature of research and practice in these key areas and produce an annotated bibliography for use and dissemination. Educator focus groups will be held to better understand their needs regarding the CS requirement and their capacity for digital making programs. Youth focus groups will also be held with teens already engaged in maker programs as well as teens who are not in such programs.
Informed by the research and planning phase, the pilot phase (spring 2017) will launch a professional development series, youth programming, and resource toolkits to facilitate computer science learning through digital making at two partner school sites.
Core partners will meet monthly in person and will also have monthly conference calls, with additional stakeholders invited to meetings regularly. In working with both educators and youth, and leveraging Hive moonshot work and other funded projects, existing digital making programs will be refined to incorporate more explicit connections to the CS curriculum and develop new PD for educators. Program experiences and evaluation findings will inform refinement of the model for expansion in 2017-2018, produce toolkits and curricular resources for dissemination the Hive network.