NCWIT AspireIT Toolkit: Engage Students

Get inspired by activity ideas and real-life sample program materials, consider multiple program types to implement, and utilize “How-To Guides” for planning and facilitation.

AspireIT Core Values

There are three core values for which evaluation shows to foster effectiveness and lead to the greatest impact for participants and their communities: peer mentorship, inclusivity, and hands-on engagement. Click on the icons below to get a brief overview of each value to keep at the forefront while planning and running programs.

Activity Ideas

Looking for inspirational, engaging activities for program participants? Get started with these resources and tutorials.

Program Types

There are four main types of programs: afterschool programs, camps, hackathons, and community events. Which type is right for you? Click below to review key characteristics of each, as well as real-life agendas and lesson plans from past AspireIT programs.

"How-To" Guides

These guides provide an overview of each step of the process — program planning, lesson design, facilitation, and reflection — and will help you stay on track with every facet of your program. Keep the AspireIT Core Values (above) in mind as you work your way through each guide.

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Peer Mentorship Circle Icon

Peer Mentorship

Research shows that having near-peer mentors (individuals who are a few learning stages ahead of participants) involved in providing computing experiences to K-12 students makes the environment less threatening, helps students build personal connections, and inspires students to explore how their interests and passions relate to a realm of opportunities in computing. Additionally, the near-peer mentors benefit from developing leadership, project management, and facilitation skills.
Inclusivity Circle Icon

Inclusivity

Computing education should be inclusive of all students — at the intersections of race/ethnicity, class, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and other historically marginalized identities. To engage a diverse range of students, educational approaches should (1) assume all students can succeed, (2) make curriculum meaningful and relevant, and (3) connect knowledge and learning to students’ strengths, interests, and prior experiences.
Hands-On Engagement Circle Icon

Hands-On Engagement

By stepping back and letting participants take the lead and work with their hands, students build skills around persistence and self-confidence that will be applicable to any future career. Hands-on, participant-driven experiences help K-12 students retain learning and gain genuine curiosity and interest in the subject matter at hand.

The following sample lesson plan was provided by NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community members, as an example of what worked for them in their local community. Content presented is not vetted or endorsed by NCWIT.

The Future of Cyberspace (Ellen Xu & Zipline Theory)
This program touches on topics such as information security, digital forensics, online safety/ethics, digital forensic techniques, and internet protocols like DNS and HTTP/HTTPS. It also exposes participants to career opportunities within cybersecurity.
Sample Lesson Plan (Downloadable PDF)

The following promotional webpage, sample agenda, and sample presentations were provided by NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community members, as an example of what worked for them in their local community. Content presented is not vetted or endorsed by NCWIT. Content may continuously evolve or change.

Cyberweek.org (Samina Mondal & Cyberweek)
Cyberweek.org is a flexible, week-long curriculum where participants learn to detect online threats, gain a better understanding of how the internet works, and spark an interest in the cybersecurity careers of the future.
Cyberweek.org

STEAMKidz (Tomi Oladeji & STEAMKidz)
STEAMKidz is a virtual summer camp where participants learn about different aspects of STEAM, write games using Python, and hear from role models who talk about how they got interested in the field.
Sample Agenda (Downloadable PDF)
HTML & CSS Presentation (Downloadable PPT)
Intro to Python Presentation (Downloadable PPT)

The following sample agenda/lesson plan was provided by NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community members, as an example of what worked for them in their local community. Content presented is not vetted or endorsed by NCWIT.

ITgirl (Lola Kovalski & Mobile CSP)
ITgirl teaches programming and equips participants with the skills and confidence to persist in tech. The first three sessions introduce participants to App Inventor and Mobile CSP. The final session is a hackathon where participants are paired with a mentor to create apps related to women empowerment.
Sample Agenda/Lesson Plan (Downloadable PDF)