Students Need Early Access to Computer Science Education

By Shannon Landin Codecraft Lab C0-founder & CEO Codecraft Lab is a non profit organization that offers computer science learning opportunities and curriculum to k-12 students and teachers in Brevard county. More specifically our programs include hands on & unplugged activities to teach:

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Our programs are offered to young people at a growing number of elementary schools in Brevard, in addition to our headquarters in downtown Eau Gallie. Our goal is to promote, support and incorporate learning to code into the education of all students through early access to STEM programs, specifically computer science. Codecraft Lab envisions a vibrant edtech & STEM ecosystem where every kid has the opportunity to learn basic computer programming in a fun, interactive, safe and supportive environment. These learning opportunities will be supported by a diverse cross industry leadership group that values and supports early access to STEM. Over the past 2 years we have been steadily expanding our reach, and impact. We started with 12 students in 2013 and finished 2014 with 250! We are on track to serve and support more than 500 students and roughly 20 educators this year!! We recently put a 32 week curriculum online so that schools and teachers could access the material during a Codecraft Club, or a regular daytime class. Teachers and club volunteers can also prepare for the work in advance, as it fits into their schedule. We have a 12 week CS Lab for homeschoolers, and over the past two years have executed 14 weeks of week long summer camps, filled to capacity in record time both years. Codecraft Lab has also developed a priceless pool of available, technical, and dedicated volunteers from a variety of universities, industries and local corporations.   More than half of our economic growth over the last 60 years resulted from technological innovation, much of which came from STEM related fields and jobs. Computer Science and the technology it supports is a growing cornerstone of our lives, and our economy. There is a well understood lack of qualified people to fill hundreds of thousands of jobs nationally, and start or develop next generation companies and ideas. Students need early access to computer science curriculum and computational thinking skills to be prepare for college, and the workforce. Unfortunately today, BPS offer no organized CS curriculum and only 5 out of 16 public high schools in our county offer one CS class. By offering our programs to k12 student we hope to address the shortfall, be a solution leader here at home, and increase students early exposure to computer programming.

Python programming camp for kids

We measure our impact using several metrics, and make tiny adjustments based on what we learn from our clients, including number of students served,  collection of anonymous performance data collected from school partners to understand potential cross curricular support.  We also surveys student to measure the knowledge and interest in CS and other STEM subjects when the first come to our lab, and at the end of a course. I am personally very proud of the work we’ve done empowering and supporting Codecraft Girls. In 2013 we had a 2% female enrollment, but this year, 2015, to-date 42% of our students are female!! A Codecraft Girl won 1st place in Computer Science category at the FL State Science & Engineering fair, and other Codecraft Girls are taking what they have learned in the Lab to express themselves digitally and make a difference that is important to them. I can’t think of a better example of impact, than seeing Codecraft Girls using code to work on solutions to BIG societal problems that they are passionate about. Innovation is a big part of the Space Coast history, and these girls and Codecraft Kids are our next generation of socialpreneur and STEM innovators. Last, I want to share some horizons of hope and opportunity for Codecraft Lab in the coming weeks. We are working on new & exciting collaborations that support our mission and help scale our impact and operations. Collaboration with the Girl Scouts of Citrus Counsel, to offer badge workshops for Girl Scouts across two counties, and another  important effort with Florida Tech’s Department of Education and Interdisciplinary Studies, provides Florida Tech students studying to be the next STEM teachers hands-on training with Codecraft Lab’s intro to Computer Science & Computing curriculum. This is not only important for their own education, none of them are CS majors, but it also provides these students with a STEM teaching tool they could potentially use on day one in their first classroom. As you all ponder and plan your own horizons of hope and opportunity keep in mind the Codecraft Lab kids, their potential role in business and workforce of the future, all that we’ve accomplished on the Space Coast so far,  as well as your feelings about the importance of practical digital skills and innovation. Innovation stems from curiosity, and the Space Coast has a great history. Will your organization support early access to STEM education at Codecraft Lab?  If we want to continue to fuel innovation here, we need to encourage curiosity, skill development and passion. Rather than worrying constantly about the hours devoted to digital game play, what if we take that time to talk to them about how they were made? How do those pixels move across the screen, and the internet? What REALLY happens when you click your mouse? What could happen if we help all kids gain access to a Codecraft Lab or Club where they can learn to make what they love, with code? Let’s keep innovating on the Space Coast and in our county; learning more everyday, exploring the internet and coding with passion! A lifetime of hopeful horizons ahead for all of you and all our young people.



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