Like most things this year, Computer Science Week at Killip Elementary looked a little different. Killip held a virtual computer science celebration during the week of December 7-12 in honor of Admiral Grace Hopper - Pioneer of Computer Science - who was born on December 9, 1906. The goal of the event was to increase student interest in computer science as well as expose the crucial role that computer science plays in everyday life. Guest speakers from W.L. Gore, High Country Humane Society, and even the Flagstaff Police Department presented virtual guest talks through Zoom to students and families showing how computer science is used in their jobs.
Killip collaborated with NAU assistant professor Morgan Vigil-Hayes, an accomplished computer science researcher with experience in creating classroom curriculum; she taught three exciting interactive sessions about “finding the internet”. One former AmeriCorps VISTA, Stefan, spoke about computer-generated randomness in relation to Pokemon games. Other community organizations who spoke during Computer Science Week include Jeff Jones from Coconino Community College, Graham Campbell and Ward Davis from the Flagstaff Coco-Op, multiple guests from FUSD, and Federica Cuomo from W.L. Gore, as well as Lauren Adoram-Kershner from the USGS. The Cyber Patriots and CocoNuts from Coconino High School participated by planning fun activities for students, including sandwich-making to learn about algorithms and games to learn about cyber safety. AmeriCorps STEM VISTAs participated by leading activities, such as a fingerprinting activity - that showed how computer softwares can match fingerprints to people - and a binary code bracelet-making session.
250 computer science “goodie bags” filled with brochures, computer science worksheets, and supplies to participate in activities were handed out in preparation for the event to students and families. In addition, attendees of Computer Science Week could stop by Killip on Tuesday night to pick up a family-size meal of chili and cornbread.
Hosting a virtual event had its challenges; It was difficult to advertise, to recruit guest speakers, to distribute supplies to each family, to fix sudden technical issues on Zoom, but in the end, I was reminded that technology is a force that binds people together. Computer Science Week hosted 18 different guest speakers and had a total attendance of 350 individuals, proving that even in a quarantine period, students are eager and willing to learn. During Computer Science Week, in which families could gather around a computer together with dinner and learn from guest speakers miles and miles away, you couldn’t help but see how crucial technology is to staying connected in today’s world.
If you missed out on last week’s activities, but would like to check out our recorded sessions, games, and computer science resources, visit https://sites.google.com/fusd1.org/lets-celebrate-cs.
Written by Christina Vu