BPC/NCWIT K-12 Outreach Workshop

I want to thank all the people that presented and attended the recent NCWIT/BPC K-12 Outreach Workshop in Washington, D.C. this month. From what I hear and what I saw, it was a smashing success. BPC and NCWIT are working hard to get good programs to “where the students are,” and I hope this workshop helped us all take a step in that direction.

At this workshop, several of our wonderful BPC Principal Investigators (PIs) were able to share their success stories. We are proud of how well their programs are doing. At the same time, several national organizations (Girl Scouts, 4-H, Girls Inc., Citizen Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, MESA), which together reach a huge proportion of K-12 youth in the U.S., shared their mission and goals. This should help our PIs learn how to spread their successful interventions and ideas along existing national networks. I, for one, was excited to learn that 4-H isn’t just about the state fair – it exists to help kids learn about new technology.
Our keynote speakers were dynamic and inspiring. Citizen Schools President and CEO Eric Schwarz educated us on how average citizens, who care about their schools, can help to make a difference and really enhance the school day. Citizen Schools is the type of “disruptive technology” that can virally change the landscape of education – making science learning interactive and fun.

Speaking of fun: we were treated to an entertaining discussion by Dr. Tim Bell, one of the creators of CS Unplugged. Not only did he bring squishy fruit and conduct binary magic tricks – assisted by the talented Dr. Tom Cortina – but he reminded us how much fun computing can be and how even elementary school student can be awed by, and understand, the simple magic of computing.
I hope everyone learned as much as, if not more than, I did. I hope connections where made that are followed-up on. And I hope to hear about everyone’s continued success in the future.

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