Formal and Informal Groups Working Together to Bridge Need for Computer Science Learning

IMG_0365A new resource released today by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and TECH CORPS demonstrates the potential to embed real computer science standards into afterschool and club activities for elementary school age children.
A new “crosswalk” document released by the Computer ScienceTeachers Association and TECH CORPS [], illustrates the extent to which TECH CORPS’ Techie Club program lessons incorporate the learning standards from the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards into a fun, informal education experience that engages all students, especially those who are traditionally absent from computer science courses offered during school hours.
According to CSTA Executive Director, Dr. Chris Stephenson, this alignment project represents a unique partnership between the professional association representing Computer Science (CS) educators and a well-respected national nonprofit organization focusing on informal education.
“Too often our efforts to address the lack of access to computer science especially for underrepresented students have been focused either on the standards-driven formal education environment or the fun-centered informal education environment,” says Stephenson. “This alignment of rigorous standards and great, engaging activities shows that we can work together to create rich computer science experiences for kids wherever they can access it.”
Techie Club includes more than 40 hours of hands-on, interactive activities for 3rd – 6th grade students. The lessons focus on a variety of computing topics, promote 21st century skills and provide students with an awareness of technology-related careers.
“TECH CORPS is dedicated to bringing additional technology resources to K-12 students and teachers through the development of technology programs and the deployment of technology volunteers,” said Lisa M. Chambers, National Executive Director of TECH CORPS.  “The Techie Club program was designed to introduce students to the computing concepts and skills that are necessary for success in today’s classroom and tomorrow’s workplace.”
TECH CORPS worked closely with the CSTA Standards Committee to ensure that the alignment document truly represented the depth of the computer science learning provided in the Techie Club curriculum.
Chambers and Stephenson agree that computer science should be part of the learning experience for all students; therefore, it is critical that formal and informal educators work together to ensure that all computer science learning is rigorous both in and outside of the classroom.  They see their work together as an example of the kind of border-crossing that benefits all computer science education and all young learners.
TECH CORPS plans to align some of its other programs with the standards in the near future.


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