The Columbia STEM Alliance created an initiative in 2017 to introduce students to computer science, allowing them to progress to more advanced robotics programming and construction using the BBC “micro:bit” to gain experience. The CSA and Columbia Public Schools (CPS) created and introduced hands-on computer science coding to 2,523 students in grades 4-8 in its first year. Approximately 1,600 students looking for more intensive levels of computer science and were provided with a free micro:bit device – and the response was amazing! More than 1,000 girls and 800 low-income students participated in this program across the school district. At Lange Middle School, 91.6% of the students who received a micro:bit continued on to advanced coding classes.
This year, The Columbia STEM Alliance again plans to team-up with CPS to develop a more formalized program for middle school computer science. The CSA plans to provide support to local teachers by recruiting and training pre-service teachers to work directly with these students.