Why Computer Science?
Computer science (CS) has become a fundamental 21st century literacy in our increasingly digitized, interconnected world. It goes beyond coding and typing games. The computational thinking that comes from learning computer science reinforces skills important across all academic subjects—skills like creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and even digital etiquette. In fact, numerous studies confirm that students who learn computer science outperform their peers in core subjects and are even more likely to attend college.
But despite this, only half of the high schools in the United States offer computer science. In elementary and middle schools, access is even lower.
At AVID, we believe that every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. From planning an Hour of Code to special regional training partnerships, we can help you bring CS to your classroom.
Computer Science Is Changing Everything
It’s true. Computer science influences nearly every aspect of our lives—from art to manufacturing to zoology.
Explore Careers in Technology
Computer science prepares students for in-demand roles in hundreds of exciting careers.
Computer Science is hands-on, dynamic, and fun.
Colorful code editors. Racing robots. Blinking lights and handwritten schematics. There are lots of ways to teach computer science in school, no matter what resources you have available
Here are some of our favorite tools and activities:
Microsoft’s MakeCode Arcade allows students grades 4+ to play, design, and build retro arcade games using a free online code editor. This year’s Hour of Code activity explores how technology can help combat forest fires featuring 8-bit firefighting airtanker plane.
Travel back in time to save the future in this free Hour of Code lesson from Minecraft: Education Edition! Students will connect with great innovators and inventions while learning basic coding concepts in this choose-your-own-adventure lesson.
Now K-5 students can code Wonder Workshop’s beloved Dash robot both in the classroom and online through Wonder Workshop’s new 3D simulator, Dash’s Neighborhood. Step-by-step tutorials are provided using the popular block-based programming language, Blockly.
Pitsco’s Code Cube is a small wearable device with a full-color, 64-pixel screen and a built-in accelerometer. Elementary students use Pitsco’s block-based code editor to program graphics and animations that react to their environment.
Learn how hardware and software work together in the BBC micro:bit—a pocket-sized “microcontroller” with an LED light display, buttons, and sensors that you can program and physically interact with. Students can program in both block-based and text-based languages using a free online code editor with simulator.
Used worldwide since 2003, MIT Media Lab’s Scratch was one of the first block-based code editors designed for young students. Kids aged 8 and older can use Scratch to create games, animations, and interactive stories, and it is provided free in over 70 languages, including a version for pre-readers (ScratchJr).
How Do I Get Involved?
Introduce Your Students to an Hour of Code
Hour of Code is an annual worldwide effort during CSEdWeek to introduce K–12 students to computer science and show that anybody can learn how to code. Started in 2012, the campaign is supported by over 400 international partners and has engaged over 100 million students.
Teachers (especially those new to computer science) traditionally pick free, online tutorials to introduce an Hour of Code to their students. Whether your classroom is 1:1 or has no computers at all, there are hundreds of ways you can take part in the campaign. All you have to do is pick a lesson.
Here are a few Grab-and-Go options hosted here on AVID Open Access:
Get Support to Teach Computer Science All Year
Computer science doesn’t have to happen once a year. One of the biggest barriers facing student access to computer science is a lack of trained educators willing and excited to teach it. Get trained! You don’t have to be a tech wizard to teach computer science, especially at the K–8 level.
Check out two of AVID’s newest regional training partnerships and get trained to teach computer science at minimal to no cost.
AVID is proud to be Code.org’s regional training partner for the states of Washington, Montana, and Oregon.
Code.org is a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science through advocacy, curriculum reform, and professional development. Over a third of schools in the United States use Code.org’s K–12 curriculum, which is free, highly rated by teachers, and aligned to state learning standards.
AVID is proud to be the regional partner for TEALS in Minnesota.
Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) is a Microsoft Philanthropies program that builds sustainable computer science programs in high schools by pairing teachers with industry volunteers and proven curricula. Founded in 2009, TEALS serves 17,000 students in over 500 high schools in the United States and British Columbia.
Connect to Computer Science through STEM
Being strategic about STEM teaching is a great way to introduce computer science to students—and AVID can help!
New Creative Coding Lessons Available!
Get STEM Connections lessons delivered directly to your inbox.
Subscribe to AVID’s STEM Connections™. The subscription is offered complimentary through the 2021–2022 academic year, and there are dozens of easy-to-use lesson plans that can help you integrate CS within STEM for grades K–8. Designed for teachers by teachers, the only prep needed for these lessons is to read them over and decide when to best use them.
What makes STEM Connections special?
- Standards-aligned for easy integration into curriculums
- Design thinking, cross-disciplinary approach gives students an opportunity to innovate solutions to real-world problems with hands-on activities that incorporate project-based learning
- Inclusion of social and emotional learning (SEL) and future-ready skills in all lessons
- Scaffolded lessons for teachers new to STEM, as well as modifications for STEM experts
- AVID’s foundational WICOR strategies are integrated throughout the lessons