Increasing the awareness and importance of Computer Science has been a big push of mine. Here are some of the ways I have grown my program over the years:
Word of Mouth:
- Be a good teacher. Have fun. Keep the kids learning and creating 😉 Empower them to direct some of their learning themselves.
- Specifically ask kids to share your class with others during registration time if they think their friends would enjoy it. I usually do this via facebook and a link to my website.
Clothing: (target audience: current students) Kids wear these all the time! One of the best decisions I made was doing this!
- I ordered CS Tshirts that I gave to specific students for events where they were representing my program, but I later allowed any student to purchase the shirt. I took a loss on the shirts (purchased at around $20/item, sold at $10/item) using our club money to cover the loss.
- I gave students the opportunity to order CS Sweatshirts (in school colors, and in sweatshirt form so it would go OVER their normal clothes and they’d wear it many days). I took a loss on the sweatshirts (purchased at around $22/item, sold at $15/item) using our club money to cover the loss.
Videos: (target audience: 9-11 graders)
- I email the higher level math teachers (geometry+) at our JR High as well as the higher level math teachers at our HS (who teach non-seniors) THE WEEK BEFORE REGISTRATION and ask them to share these videos with their students
Handouts: For the events listed below…
- College Credit in the High School Night : I hand-pick some good students and ask them to represent my program. I especially target a good girl for that year and some of the more “popular” students who enjoy my class. I also bought them shirts (the first year out of my own pocket) and asked them to wear them to the event.
- 9th grade parent night : Since we are a 10-12 school, when JR High 9th grade parents have their night to learn about the HS, I try to have flyers and maybe a student at the event to promote my program.
- Programming Contests : getting kids excited about programming contests, posting winning results to the front page of our high school website just like sports wins. It helps that I’m the webmaster 🙂
Programming Club: (target audience: current students and their friends)
- Purposefully scheduling programming on a day that does not conflict with our Robotics Team meetings.
- Asking current students that are in FIRST Robotics who are part of their programming team, to join programming club.
- Doing fun things in Programming Club that require minimal prior knowledge of programming. i.e. Arduino tutorials, AppInventor, Codecademy.com
- Allowing for fun socializing time (of course!)
- NOT ALLOWING any gaming during club time. Stressing that we are NOT a video game club; we are a programming club.
Outreach: (target audience: elementary and middle school students)
- Elementary School Zero Hour Coding classes : I have had various students over the years teach Scratch or Hour of Code zero hour classes at our elementary schools. Increases awareness and the kids do all the work. Getting to them early helps me capture some of the students I’d otherwise lose.
- Middle School Engineering classes : This year (2014) I purchased some RoominateToy kits and we plan to develop a week long Zero Hour course to teach at the middle schools. Again, I have some great students working on this project.
Connecting with Computing Series: (target audience: student body; kids identified with potential for success in computing who aren’t currently considering it as a future path)
- I just started (Nov 2014) a “Connecting with Computing Series” where I have some students helping me organize what I hope to be a monthly event where we introduce some computing topics to the general student body. We are doing this outside normal school time. I am inviting everyone in my classes, but we are also sending “special invitations” through math teachers to students who have the aptitude for applied math (in this case, computing), but teachers don’t think they are necessarily considering computing as a career.
- Nov 2014: How Computer Science Changes the World
- Dec 2014: Technology Leaders
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