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December 7-11 was Computer Science Week around the world. According to Code.org, over 190,000 schools worldwide participated in some sort of computer science program at their school. Alpine was learning right along with everyone else all week long. On Monday and Tuesday, we had a computer scientist from the company Salesforce give presentations to every single classroom in our school. We learned about the 5 strands of computer science, as defined by the CSTA, Computer Science Teacher Association. These strands are as follows: Collaboration, Computer and Communication Devices, Computing Practice and Programming, Community, Global and Ethical Impacts, and Computational Thinking. Students engaged in learning activities that focused on each of the different strands following the presentation.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday brought about a different type of Computer Science Learning Opportunity. All students in preschool-5th grade attended the “Alpine Computer Science Lab”. This lab hosted 20 different stations that all fell into one of the 5 Computer Science Strands outlined above. Students in each grade level spent time exploring the different stations at their leisure. Both plugged and unplugged activities were available to all students. From app exploration and online coding to unplugged computational thinking and math experiences, students were deeply engaged in exciting learning activities that promoted critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication with others.
Another aspect of Computer Science Week was our Student Leadership Program. We have an extensive enrichment program at Alpine that is open to ALL students at no cost to families. The students who take advantage of these opportunities quickly become experts with the tools they are using. These students hosted a station in their area of expertise and facilitated other students’ learning. Students in every grade, from kindergarten up through 5th, had the opportunity to host a station and teach others. Kindergarteners were teaching 5th graders how to use Cubelets, 3rd graders hosted mini Vex IQ robotics tournaments for 4th graders, and 2nd graders taught kindergarteners how to use Scratch Jr. Students in the Media Club taught others how to use green screens, and 5th graders showed younger students how to create videos using Stop Motion. Regardless the age of the “teacher or student”, students were engaged in learning everywhere.
The success of this program was dependent on many factors. First, our parent support was tremendous. Approximately 20 parents volunteered to support the Computer Science Week Lab on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They ran stations, supported student learning, and did some learning themselves! Next, our teachers truly made this event spectacular. As innovators and problem solvers, the staff at Alpine finds ways to work through challenges and obstacles to create the best learning opportunities our students could ask for. Every teacher in our building embraces the growth mindset, allowing our educational community to keep up with the growing demands of living in the 21st Century. Finally, our student participants made this week a true success. Their engagement, enthusiasm and excitement for learning was fully present this week. Students wanted to learn, wanted to explore and wanted to inquire. We couldn’t ask for a better group of students with whom we get to work each and every day. Way to go Alpine!