NSF INCLUDES DDLP:The Alabama Alliance for an Inclusive Middle Grades Computer Science Preparation through Makerspaces in the Alabama Black Belt Region
This NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot (named ALCSE-INCLUDES) project will develop and implement an innovative computer science (CS) education model that will provide all 8th grade students in 3 districts in Alabama's 'Black Belt' with exciting and structured hands-on activities intended to make CS learning enjoyable. The course will use an educational style called "learning CS by making" where students will create a CS-based product (such as a robot) and understand the concepts that make the product work. This hands-on approach has the potential to motivate diverse student populations to pursue higher level CS courses and related disciplines during and after high school, and to join the CS workforce, which is currently in need of more qualified workers.
ALCSE-INCLUDES Launch Pilot will unite the efforts of higher education institutions, K-12 officials, Computer Science (CS)-related industry, and community organizations to pursue a common agenda: To develop, implement, study, and evaluate a scalable and sustainable prototype for CS education at the middle school level in the Alabama Black Belt (ABB) region. The ABB is a region with a large African-American, low-income population; thus, the program will target individuals who have traditionally had little access to CS education. The prototype for CS education will be piloted with 8th grade students in 3 ABB schools, using a set of coordinated and mutually reinforcing activities that will draw from the strengths of all members of the ALCSE Alliance. The future scaled-up version of the program will implement the prototype in the 73 middle schools that comprise ALL 19 school districts of the ABB. The program's main innovation is to provide CS education using a makerspace, a dedicated area equipped with grade-appropriate CS resources, in which students receive mentored and structured hands-on activities. The goal is to engage ALL students, in learning CS through making, an evidence-based pedagogical approach expected to reinforce skills and promote deep interest in CS.
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