CSTA member Ryan Lindsay shares how his small school meets the demand for K-12 computer science!
Northeast Range School, located in Babbitt, MN, is part of ISD# 2142. Our small school has only 200 plus students K-12, which makes it a challenge to fit in computer science electives! Interest among students in the district is growing based on some code.org work at the middle school level, dash and dot, FIRST Lego League and other programs in the elementary, as well as a couple of First Robotics Competition teams at the high school level.
We are in year 2 of offering CE Mobile Computer Science Principles through SMSU. To get a few more students in the course, the district allows students from 3 other high schools in the district to enroll to take the class at a distance. Northwoods School in Cook, MN, in particular, has signed up several students for this model in recent years. It has been great to have a curriculum that is ideal for distance learning this year, and fun to watch the students figure out how to pair program and work together remotely. At least 1 class was easy(already finished!) to prep for distance learning times! We also have our first small set of students learning Java with CSAwesome as they wanted a bit more after successfully completing Mobile CSP.
I juggle the two courses in the same hour, which leads me to believe the learning experience could be a little better in a larger school with true CS specialists, while noting that the realities of FTE costs in a small district do exist. However, the solid curricula, student interest and student post high school plans involving some sort of CS give me the satisfaction that something is working. Hopefully, I will have a contact list of expert alumni in a few years that I can reference when I get stumped!