Category Archives: Google for Education Blog

The official source for information about Google’s education-related efforts

A new pathway to roles in IT Support

Today, we’re launching the Google IT Support Professional Certificate hosted on Coursera—a first-of-its-kind online program to prepare people for roles in IT support. With no previous experience required, beginning learners can become entry-level job ready in eight to 12 months. This program is part of Grow with Google, our initiative to help people get the skills they need to find a job.


There’s no better example of a dynamic, fast-growing field than IT support. With more and more people relying on computers for some part of their work, growth in IT support is outpacing the average rate for all other occupations. In the United States alone, there are currently 150,000 open IT support jobs (according to Burning Glass), and the average starting salary is $52,000 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.  

I helped hire Google’s IT staff for several years when I led our internal IT support program; it was often challenging to find qualified candidates. But I knew that candidates didn't need traditional four-year college degrees to be qualified—and also found that IT was very teachable. So in 2014 we partnered with the nonprofit organization Year Up to create a program aimed at training and hiring non-traditional talent for IT support internships and full-time roles. The program was a success, and its graduates inspired us to think about how we could make a bigger impact beyond Google. Watch the story of one of our program graduates, Edgar Barragan:

Edgar Barragan: IT Support Specialist

Now we’re using the training we implemented at Google as the basis of a new program available to anyone, anywhere, as part of the Grow with Google initiative. No tech experience or college degree is necessary.


With over 64 hours of video lessons and a dynamic mix of hands-on labs and other interactive assessments, all developed by Googlers, this certificate program introduces people to troubleshooting and customer service, networking, operating systems, system administration, automation, and security—all the fundamentals of IT support. Throughout the program, people will hear directly from Googlers whose own foundation in IT support served as a jumping-off point for their careers.


Since we know training is just the first step, we also want to help with the next one—the job search. Once people complete the certificate, they can opt in to share their information directly with top employers, including Bank of America, Walmart, Sprint, GE Digital, PNC Bank, Infosys, TEKSystems, UPMC, and of course, Google, all who are looking to hire IT support talent.


To ensure job seekers from all backgrounds have access to the program, we’re subsidizing the cost of the certificate on Coursera to $49/month and providing financial support to more than 10,000 learners in the United States. Need-based scholarships, funded by Google.org grants, will be offered through leading nonprofits focused on underrepresented communities including Year Up, Per Scholas, Goodwill, Student Veterans of America, and Upwardly Global. Full financial assistance is also available to those who qualify.  


You can find out more and enroll at the Google IT Support page on Coursera.


I’ve seen firsthand how educational opportunities can transform people’s careers and lives. By making the Google IT Support Professional Certificate accessible on Coursera, we hope to open the door for everyone to begin a career in technology.

Source: Education


Eight things you need to know about Hash Code 2018

Are you up for a coding challenge? Team up to solve an engineering problem from Google—registration for Hash Code 2018 is now open.  

Hash Code is Google’s flagship team programming competition for students and professionals in  Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. You pick your team and programming language, we pick a Google engineering problem for you to solve. Thinking about competing in Hash Code? Here’s what you need to know before you sign up:

1. This is the fifth edition of Hash Code. Hash Code started in 2014 with just 200 participants. We’ve grown a bit since the early days—last year more than 26,000 developers teamed up to compete from 100+ countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

2. Problems are modeled after Google engineering challenges. We want participants to experience what software engineering is like at Google, so we model Hash Code problems after challenges faced by Google engineering teams. Past problems have included optimizing video serving on YouTube, routing Street View cars through a busy city, and optimizing the layout of a Google data center.  

3. You compete in a small team (just like engineers at Google!). To compete in Hash Code, you need to form a team of two to four people. This means it’s not just about what you know individually, but about how you and your team can work together to tackle the problem.

4. Hash Code kicks off with an Online Qualification Round on Thursday, March 1. It all starts with a YouTube livestream at 18:30 CET sharp, after which the problem is released and teams have four hours to code. 

5. Hubs add extra excitement to the Online Qualification Round. Hubs are meetups where teams in the same area can come together to compete in the Online Qualification Round. They’re also a great opportunity for you to connect with other developers in your community. More than 300 hubs have been registered so far, and it’s not too late to organize a hub if there isn’t one near you already.

Some competitors in the 2017 Hash Code Online Qualification Round
Some competitors having fun at a few of the hubs during the 2017 Hash Code Online Qualification Round.
6. The Final Round will be held at Google Dublin. Top teams from the Online Qualification Round will be invited to our European Headquarters in April to vie for the title of Hash Code 2018 Champion.

7. It's a competition—but it's also about having fun! As Ingrid von Glehn, a software engineer at Google London who is part of the Hash Code organizing team, puts it: “We design the problems to be challenging, but not intimidating. It’s important to us that everyone has fun while taking part.” 

Join in on all the fun online through our Facebook event and G+ community, using the #hashcode tag. These channels are also great spaces to connect with other engineers and find team members.

Hash Code 2018

8. You can register todayReady to accept the challenge? Be sure to sign up before registration closes on February 26.

*Featured image: Teams hard at work tackling our wireless router placement problem during 2017’s Final Round in Paris. 

Source: Education


Our 17 favorite education moments from 2017

Editor’s Note: Happy New Year from all of us on the Google for Education team! We know you count on Google for Education in your classrooms, and we take that responsibility seriously. We remain deeply committed to bringing the best of Google to education, and to expanding learning for everyone. As we look to the year ahead, we’re looking back on our 17 favorite moments from 2017.

In 2017, we...

1. Did an hour of code with Chance the Rapper for Computer Science Education Week, surprising a Chicago classroom and announcing a $1.5 million Google.org grant to provide CS for students across Chicago Public Schools. We also released the first-ever programmable Google Doodle and invited students to code their own Google logos.

ChancetheRapper_EDU.png

2. Announced a new initiative called Grow with Google which provides access to digital tools and training for students, teachers, job-seekers and lifelong learners. As part of the announcement, our CEO Sundar Pichai visited one of the Pittsburgh classrooms participating in our new Dynamic Learning Project, a pilot that empowers educators to use technology in meaningful ways.

Sundar_GrowWithGoogle.jpg
As part of Grow with Google, our CEO Sundar visited a school in Pittsburgh to learn about their experience participating in the Dynamic Learning Project

3. Introduced a new generation of Chromebooks that let you use a stylus and flip from laptop to tablet mode. These Chromebooks have cameras on two sides and USB-C charging. New devices from Acer, Asus, HP, Dell and Lenovo come in all shapes, sizes, and price points to meet the needs of different teachers, students, schools and districts.

Chromebooks_New Generation.png
A next generation Chromebook with dual camera flipped into tablet mode.

4. Went back to school with a new resource hub for teachers. On #FirstDayOfClassroom, there’s helpful Google for Education tips and tricks from the people who know our tools the best—educators. Thanks to input from our dedicated community, we were also able to introduce the most-requested features in Google Classroom and Forms.

5. Met the Internaut, a digital citizenship guru and mascot of Be Internet Awesome, a program to help students make smart decisions online. With resources for students (including the online game Interland), educators, and families, everyone has the tools to learn and participate in digital safety and citizenship. Bonus: we also launched a Digital Citizenship and Safety course.

id101_brand-curriculumintro_beinternetsmart (2).gif

6. Celebrated International Literacy Day by creating and translating more than 1,000 children’s books for StoryWeaver, a Google.org grantee, with the #1000books campaign. Our support of Storyweaver is part of our 2016-2017 $50 million philanthropic commitment to nonprofit organizations working to close global learning gaps.

7. Were inspired by more than 11,000 girls from 103 countries during the Technovation Challenge. Finalists came to Google’s Mountain View headquarters to pitch their projects, which address issues in categories including peace, poverty, environment, equality, education, and health.

Sundar_Technovation.png
Our CEO Sundar Pichai takes a selfie with members of the winning team behind QamCare

8. Used technology to amplify student stories. Working with the non-profit 826 Valencia, Googlers helped under-resourced students create A Planet Ruled by Love using Tilt Brush. The result was a virtual reality movie that helped kids express themselves through storytelling and technology.

826 Valencia and Google

826 Valencia and Google

9. Ate funnel cakes and coded at the Illinois State Fair. We also announced our support of 4-H with a $1.5 million Google.org grant to provide students around the U.S. the opportunity to grow their future skills through computer science programming. Eat your heart out, blue ribbon marmalade.

Google-4H.png
An Illinois 4-Her on a virtual reality Expedition to see how students coded an ear tag for farmers to keep track of their wandering cattle

10. Did our research. Partnering with Gallup, we learned that students who are encouraged by a teacher or parent are three times more likely to be interested in learning computer science. 2018 resolution idea: Share more facts like these to help spur educators, families and advocates to encourage all students to learn computer science.

11. Caught Hamilton fever. With support from Google.org and the Gilder Lehrman Institute, 5,000 students from Title I schools in New York, Chicago, and the Bay Area revolutionized how we learn about American history. After a six week program, students created their own pieces that they performed on the Hamilton stage (the room where it happens).

HamiltonBurr.png
Google Expeditions helped bring students closer to Alexander Hamilton’s history.

12. Were awestruck by the innovators in Latin America who joined the #InnovarParaMi movement. From a teacher helping indigenous women in Mexico get online to a fifth grader turning water bottles into light bulbs, teachers and students across Latin America are using technology to empower a rising generation of innovative changemakers.

These sixth graders built a dispenser to make drinking water accessible. #innovarparami

These sixth graders built a dispenser to make drinking water accessible. #innovarparami

13. Showed girls that the sky's the limit for women in tech. Some examples include:

14. Saw the future through the eyes of 140,000 young artists who participated in Doodle 4 Google, a contest for students to design their own Google Doodle. Guest judges selected the 2017 winner based on artistic merit, creativity, and their written statement explaining their vision for the future. (The 2018 contest just opened, so submit your Doodle!)

Doodle collage.jpg
Connecticut 10th grader Sarah Harrison's Doodle, "A Peaceful Future" (center) was chosen as the national winner.

15. Connected live with thousands of educators and students at events around the world like Bett in London, ISTE in Texas, EduTECH in Australia, EDUCAUSE in Pennsylvania and more. We hosted an online conference—EduOnAir—in Australia, celebrated Dia dos Professores in Brasil, hosted a study tour in Sweden, kicked off a new school year in Mexico, and road-tripped across the US with ExploreEDU.

#innovarparacampeche

#innovarparacampeche

16. Traveled to a new dimension with the launch of the Google Expeditions AR Pioneer Program. With augmented reality, students can explore the solar system up close, and even tour the Roman Colosseum from their classroom. (You can still sign up to bring AR to your class!)

Expeditions AR - Bringing the world into the classroom

Expeditions AR - Bringing the world into the classroom

17. Threw our first-ever PD party to celebrate passionate lifelong learners. Throughout the week of festivities, we offered discounts on our professional development programs and hosted webinars from Certified Educators, Trainers and Innovators. Looking for a 2018 resolution? Explore our Training Center for a professional development opportunity that’s right for you.

We are constantly inspired by the powerful work of educators around the world and we are excited to continue working together this coming year and beyond. Thank you for all that you do, both inside and outside the classroom, to help prepare future generations to make the world a better (and brainier) place!

Source: Education


EDU in 90: that’s a wrap on season one

You can do a lot in 90 seconds—make a paper airplane, brush your teeth, or put on sunscreen.  And with EDU in 90, you can also get Google for Education updates.  

Earlier this year, we heard from countless educators, school leaders and administrators that they wanted to keep up with the latest from Google for Education. To keep our updates quick and concise, we created EDU in 90, a video series that highlights the best of our education products and programs—all in a succinct format. Throughout season one, we’ve focused on everything from quizzes in Google Forms to online safety to using Google Keep in the classroom.

In January, we’ll be back for season two of EDU in 90. And based on feedback from hundreds of educators, we’re increasing our episode frequency and will kick things off with episodes on engaging guardians of students with G Suite and using Google Classroom for differentiated instruction.  

Don’t miss an episode—be sure to check out our series playlist and subscribe to the Google for Education YouTube channel.

Source: Education


The #MyFutureMe winner is often the only girl—but she’s going to change that

Editor’s note: Earlier this year, Made with Code teamed up with Snap Inc. to host #MyFutureMe, a competition for teens to code their own Snapchat geofilters and write their vision for the future. 22,000 teens submitted designs and shared their visions, and Zoe Lynch—a ninth-grader from South Orange, NJ—was recently named the winner by a panel of judges, including Malala Yousafzai, Lilly Singh, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and our own CFO Ruth Porat. We chatted with Zoe about her experience, how she made her filter, and why it’s important for more girls to get into coding.

What was the inspiration behind your filter?

z

The brain has fascinated me since I was younger—it’s where creativity and ideas come from so I wanted to use that. The coding project had peace signs, so I had the idea to manipulate the peace signs to look like a brain. The idea for my filter was what can happen when everyone puts their brain power together. When we do that, we are unstoppable.

After you became a finalist, you attended TEDWomen. What was that like?

It was crazy inspiring. It showed me how many powerful and cool women are out there opening paths for girls like me. I got to meet the other finalists, and we created a group chat on Snap, so that we can follow each other and stay connected. We’ve been each other’s biggest cheerleaders. All these girls are going to do awesome things. Tech mogul alert!

How did you feel when you found out that you were selected as the final winner?

I couldn’t believe it! Everyone was so talented and worked hard, but I was so happy that my ideas and creativity were recognized. To win a trip to visit Google and Snapchat was like a dream!

What advice do you have for other girls who want to learn how to code?

I know a lot of girls who think they’re not good at this kind of stuff, but most of them haven’t even tried it. So you have to try it because otherwise you won’t know if you’ll like it. I loved #MyFutureMe because teens are really into Snapchat and the different filters you can use. When you have an opportunity to make a filter, you realize that coding is behind it all.

My vision for the future is one where innovation is accessible to all. As a multiracial girl, I believe it’s important for everyone to be included. Excerpt from Zoe's vision for the future

You care a lot about inclusion—have you faced situations when inclusion has been a challenge?

When I go to camps or explore things in the engineering field, I’m often the only girl and the only person of color. Usually all the guys go together and it’s kind of discouraging, but I want to try to change that for other girls, so we don’t have to feel this way anymore.

What do you like to do outside of school?

I love to play video games—my favorite is “Uncharted”—but many of them are not really targeted to women. For women, the game is fun but you know deep down that it’s not really made for you. If I was going to make a video game, it would be an engineering game but you’re helping people. Say you want to build a bridge in the game, you’d need to use mathematics and engineering to make it work.

Who are your role models?

My mom. Hands down. She’s a Hispanic woman and and there are only white males at her level at her company, which is where my passion for inclusion started. She’s also pushed me and has always supported me.

You recently visited Snapchat and Google. What was the coolest part of the tour?

Beside the amazing offices (free food!), the coolest part was meeting the engineers. I was so inspired by their journeys and how different they all were. One was an actress, the other a gamer and the other wasn't even sure of her major until she took her first CS class in college. It showed me that there are many paths to getting into tech.

MFM121917_KeywordSelects_inline-2.png
Zoe on her tour at Snapchat in Venice, CA.

If you could have any job at Google, what would it be?

I’d want to be an engineer in artificial intelligence—I think that technology and machine learning could change the world. I’d like to see more women and people of color in the field, too.

MFM121917_KeywordSelects_inline-4.png
Zoe chats with an engineer at Google.

What do you think the future will look like when you’re 30?

I’m hoping that in the future, everyone works together. And it’ll be cool to live through new technology breakthroughs!

Source: Education


Google and Gallup’s computer science education research: six things to know

Maru Ahues Bouza, an Engineering Manager at Google, wouldn’t be where she is today without her father’s encouragement to learn computer science (CS). Growing up in Venezuela, there were no CS classes for children, so when Maru was just 10 years old, her father enrolled her and her sister in an adult CS class. At first, the girls showed little interest, but with steady support from their father, Maru and her sister became the top performers in the class. Maru continued with CS, graduating from Universidad Simón Bolívar with a Computer Engineering degree. Maru says that she couldn’t have learned CS without her father’s confidence: “if you’re taught from a young age that you can definitely do it, you’re going to grow up knowing you can be successful.”

Maru child image for 12%2F15%2F17 blog.jpg
Maru, on the left, as a child with her sister and father.

Our latest research confirms that this type of support and encouragement is indeed critical. In partnership with Gallup, today we are releasing a new research brief, Encouraging Students Toward Computer Science Learning, and a set of CS education reports for 43 U.S. states. Here are the top six things you should know about the research:

  1. Students who have been encouraged by a teacher or parent are three times more likely to be interested in learning CS.
  2. Boys are nearly two times as likely as girls to report that a parent has told them they would be good at CS.
  3. At age 12, there is no difference in interest in CS between boys and girls. However, the gap widens from age 12 to 14, when 47% of boys are very interested, but only 12% of girls express interest.
  4. Across Black, Hispanic, and White students, girls are less likely to be interested in learning CS compared to boys, with the biggest gap between Black girls (15% interested) and Black boys (44% interested). 
  5. Students are more likely to learn CS in suburban areas (61%) than in rural areas (53%). Regionally, CS is most prevalent in the South or Northeast, where 57% of students are likely to learn CS.
  6. Principals perceive mixed parent and school board support for CS, and top barriers to offering CS include minimal budget for teachers and lack of trained teachers, as well as competing priorities for standardized testing and college requirements.
EngEDU Research Infographics (1).png
EngEDU Research Infographics.jpg

Simple words of support can help more kids like Maru learn CS, no matter who they are or where they live. It's not hard to encourage students, but we often don't do so unless a student shows explicit interest. So this winter break, read the research about CS education and take a few minutes to encourage a student to create something using computer science, like coding their own Google logo. This encouragement could spark a student’s lifelong interest in computer science, just like it did for Maru.

Source: Education


Fostering a love for reading among Indonesian kids

Siti Arofa teaches a first grade class at SD Negeri Sidorukan in Gresik, East Java. Many of her students start the school year without foundational reading skills or even an awareness of how fun books can be. But she noticed that whenever she read out loud using different expressions and voices, the kids would sit up and their faces would light up with excitement. One 6-year-old student, Keyla, loves repeating the stories with a full imitation of Siti’s expressions. Developing this love for stories and storytelling has helped Keyla and her classmates improve their reading and speaking skills. She’s just one child. Imagine the impact that the availability of books and skilled teachers can have on generations of schoolchildren.


In Indonesia today, it's estimated that for every 100 children who enter school, only 25 exit meeting minimum international standards of literacy and numeracy. This poses a range of challenges for a relatively young country, where nearly one-third of the population—or approximately 90 million people—are below the age of 15.  


To help foster a habit of reading, Google.org, as part of its $50M commitment to close global learning gaps, is supporting Inibudi, Room to Read and Taman Bacaan Pelangi, to reach 200,000 children across Indonesia.


We’ve consistently heard from Indonesian educators and nonprofits that there’s a need for more high-quality storybooks. With $2.5 million in grants, the nonprofits will create a free digital library of children's stories that anyone can contribute to. Many Googlers based in our Jakarta office have already volunteered their time to translate existing children’s stories into Bahasa Indonesia to increase the diversity of reading resources that will live on this digital platform.


The nonprofits will develop teaching materials and carry out teacher training in eastern Indonesia to enhance teaching methods that improve literacy, and they’ll also help Indonesian authors and illustrators to create more engaging books for children.   


Through our support of this work, we hope we can inspire a lifelong love of reading for many more students like Keyla.


Photo credit: Room to Read


Source: Education


$13 million dollars in 10 years: CS professional development grants are open

Ten years ago, Jeff Walz, a manager on Google’s University Relations team, had a hunch about widening access to computer science (CS) education for students—he thought that if teachers could train other teachers, who would then train their students, together they could create a ripple effect. After attending a Carnegie Mellon University workshop for high school teachers designed to expose them to the “bigger picture of computer science,” Walz was inspired to create opportunities for teachers to expand their skill set. So he created Google’s first grant program to fund professional development opportunities in computer science for high school teachers.

EDU Grants-2018.jpg
Jeff at CMU celebrating the 10th anniversary of the DARPA Urvan challenge

Over the 10 years since, we’ve provided more than $13 million through our professional development grants program, formerly known as CS4HS, to fund teacher PD in computer science education around the world. Over 50,000 educators in more than 50 countries have benefited from our professional development program, designed to grow their confidence and skillset. This program is just one example of our ongoing commitment to ensure more students have access to computer science education.

And today, grant applications are open to school districts, universities, and other education nonprofits around the world for the 2018-2019 school year. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the program, we’re expanding to include applications to fund PD programs for primary, secondary, middle school teachers, as well as teachers who are still in school. Grants are available in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, China, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.

The impact of professional development grants for educators

Here are a few stories of how PD providers have used our funding to support and enable educator impact:

Lisa Milenkovic.jpg

Dr. Lisa Milenkovic, STEM and CS Supervisor for Broward County Public Schools, the sixth-largest school district in the U.S., wanted to boost interest in CS across her district. As a grantee, Milenkovic developed an online PD course to help educators achieve state certification in Florida for teaching CS. The CS certification course and face-to-face mentoring builds CS teaching expertise in the district, increasing the availability of CS classes district-wide. Learn more about Lisa’s PD journey for educators in Broward County Public Schools.

EMEA-Educator-POCallaghan.jpg

Paul O’Callaghan is a primary school teacher at Lucan Community National School in Dublin, Ireland. To further build his confidence in teaching CS and computational thinking (CT), Paul participated in the CTwins project, a joint initiative of 2016 grantees Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast. “It was motivational to be surrounded by like-minded educational professionals and to work collaboratively with people of all ages who were passionate about integrating CT meaningfully into their curricula.” The CTwins workshops encouraged Paul to develop at his school school to integrate CS throughout the entire curriculum for students aged 5 to 12. Paul says that “the potential for CS in our school knows no bounds” thanks to professional learning opportunities for teachers like himself.  

Join our online CS seminar to learn more

To learn more about computer science professional development, join us on December 16th for our first-ever online CS seminar, “Building Pathways to Teaching Computer Science.” School districts, universities and community organizations can learn how to create effective PD programs tailored to local needs of educators to integrate CS and CT into their classrooms. Seminar speakers include Maggie Johnson, Vice President of Education and University Programs at Google, Deborah Seehorn, Interim Director of CSTA, and Daniel Moix, K-12 Teacher and K-12 CS Framework & CSTA Standards Writer. You can watch the event live (or the recording) on the Google for Education YouTube Channel.

Source: Education


Teaming up with SocialWorks to bring computer science to Chicago Public Schools

Today, 5th grade students at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Academy in Chicago got a surprise. It was cool enough that they were doing a coding activity with Chicago Googlers as a part of Computer Science Education Week—but then another Chicago native joined the fun. When Chance The Rapper arrived, there were shouts of excitement and delight, and Chance even gave coding a try.

SocialWorks, a non profit co-founded by Chance, is on a mission to expose youth across the city to programming and to ensure they have the support necessary to reach their full potential—with access to arts, music, and coding as a means to express themselves.  

Today’s visit reinforced that computer science is a part of that mission. Shortly after Chance made his coding debut, Alphabet Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, David Drummond, announced that Google.org is donating $1.5 million to to bring computer science education to students in Chicago, with $500,000 going to Chicago Public Schools’ CS4All Initiative and $1 million to SocialWorks.

The grant will help teachers implement computer science and arts curriculum in their classrooms, and it builds on $40 million in Google.org grants that provide opportunities for students underrepresented in computer science to explore the field.

Justin Cunningham, Executive Director of SocialWorks, had this to say about today’s announcement: “Our grant with Google.org helps SocialWorks provide programming that sheds light on another pathway to success for young Chicagoans. While every student doesn't need to become a computer scientist, understanding the basics empowers them to understand the world they live in. The opportunity to help kids code to share their music, artwork, and distinct point of view is at the core of our mission and an experience we look forward to providing in classrooms across the city.”  

Justin Steele, Google.org Principal who leads our work in local communities, also weighed in: “We’re honored to support SocialWorks’ mission to help underrepresented students in Chicago reach their full potential, as well as Chicago Public Schools’ efforts to turn computer science into a pathway for creative expression. There’s so much talent and creativity in the communities that these schools serve—and Chance The Rapper embodies what can happen when that creativity is unleashed. With exposure to computer science, students can use technology to turn their creative passions into something bigger.”

I’ve built my own career around computer science. At Google I helped create CS First, video-based lessons that introduce students to computer science and show them coding is a tool that, in the words of the SocialWorks mission, “lets you be you.” As a kid raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I didn’t know that I’d one day graduate with a computer science degree and end up at Google. All I knew was that I was fascinated by gadgets, which one day led to learning about the software that made them work on the inside. With the support of Google and SocialWorks, students in Chicago can also find out how their interests are connected to computer science, so that they can use those skills to build the future they imagine.

These kids will always remember the day they met Chance The Rapper. We hope they’ll remember it as the day they discovered an interest in coding, too.

Source: Education


There’s no failure, just opportunity: a teacher’s journey to code

Computer Science Education Week is an annual event to get kids excited about the possibilities of coding. As a part of CSEdWeek this year, we unveiled a new coding activity that lets students create their own Google logo, using block-based coding and video tutorials. Abigail Ramirez, a middle school teacher from Pomona Unified School District, tried out the activity in her computer science classroom, and spoke to us about the activity, as well as the importance of computer science in her students’ lives.

Tell us about how you got started with coding.

When I was in the third grade, my dad bought an old computer (the kind that required giant floppy disks) and challenged my siblings and me to set it up. “Reader Rabbit”—a reading and spelling game that we liked—didn’t work properly, so we had to take out the manual, read the code, fix the code, then fix the game. We didn’t even know we were programming, we just wanted to play on the computer! Fast forward years later, my congregation needed support with our website, so I turned to YouTube and Udacity to learn more. And two months after that, I attended a week-long CS institute at Harvey Mudd College, which is where my CS education officially began.

And now you teach computer science—how did you end up doing that?

I’m probably the least likely CS teacher. I’m originally an English teacher, and have the privilege of teaching at the school that I attended, which happens to be 94 percent Title I (meaning the majority of the kids have free or reduced lunch). Most of my students have college and career dreams, and they’ll be the first in their family to go down that path. While attending the CS Institute at Harvey Mudd, I realized there was so much potential in computer science. It could help build a positive future for kids who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, have untapped potential, or simply need access to 21st century skills.

I realized there was so much potential in computer science. It could help build a positive future for kids who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Eventually, with the support of my administrator, I got the greenlight to pilot a couple of CS classes at my school. Now I teach a class called Middle Years Computer Science, which is where I tried out this year’s CSEdWeek coding activity.

How did the kids react to the coding activity?

When they found out they could design and program their own Google logo, the excitement went through the roof. Both seasoned coders and those who were new to coding came away with a sense of community and purpose. They expressed that their simple logos had the possibility of changing someone's day, putting some joy in someone's heart, inspiring people to act, and creating awareness.

What are some of the most creative approaches that the kids took to completing the activity?

Kids are imaginative and innovative by nature, and when they get access to a creative tool like programming, the sky's the limit. The students created some really heartfelt logos featuring concepts celebrating foster care and adoption using broadcasting codes (this means that letters in the logo will move in some way, based on a command that you give another letter). Others created music videos, complete with Google-themed fidget spinners. Some daring students even created motion-sensor interactive games using their webcam, and experimented with food-shaped logos.

How did the students work together to problem-solve during the activity?

I encourage my students to think of themselves as “lead learners,” meaning each individual has a skill, expertise, or idea to share with their classmates—and when they talk through each other’s ideas, it usually leads to an even better result. Coding gives students the flexibility to see what others are doing and immediately apply it, yet expand on it to increase their own skill. Besides, this shared experience is too awesome to keep to oneself—collaboration is a natural outcome. When something didn’t work in a manner they intended, you could see that students were using persistence and critical thinking to debug the block errors. When they were stuck, they would seek each other out as expert help.

Did this activity change any perceptions of coding the kids had before doing the activity?

Coding can be scary. But if you eliminate the doubt, mix in lots of fun, and allow for collaboration, coding barriers can be debugged. From the start, we established that there is no failure in their code, just an opportunity to increase their coding and debugging abilities. In the end, the students felt a sense of accomplishment from creating a program that sprung from their imagination.

How do the kids envision using computer science in the future? Have you seen their skills progress over time?

A lot of students have decided that’s the field that they want to go into. I get to be their hypemaster—I help keep the momentum going, to inspire them to pursue computer science. I also try to show them how these skills would be used out in the real world. I start each class with a “CS moment,” which is a video clip of a company that uses computer science—video gaming, for example, shows the kids that they could apply CS to things they’re already doing.

How have you noticed that learning about CS has positively impacted your students?

I can see the joy radiate out of them when they’re learning and practicing. A student once said to me, “I can change the world right now, I just need to figure out the source code.” So for me, it’s all about getting them to the next step.

As an English teacher, I gave my kids a voice. As a computer science teacher, I help them create their future.

And they get to decide what it is, and where they’ll go.

Source: Education