At Juniper Elementary School, Bend-La Pine Schools’ technology magnet school, the entire school is celebrating Computer Science Education Week with a full week of engaging, hands-on activities. Older students are taking part in a competition to design the best computer program, the library has transformed into an interactive computer hardware museum, younger students are joining unplugged computer science activities to learn basic coding skills and concepts and all teachers are participating in the national Hour of Code effort, committing to teaching at least one hour of coding to students in class.
“We want to promote creativity, deep thinking and hard work,” said Principal Dan Wolnick. “This is such a great way to open up this world of computer science to kids and prepare them for the next century of learning in an equitable way.”
Scott McDonald, Information Technology Director, says computer science efforts across the district are constantly growing and improving.
At the elementary level, students learn about coding and computer science often through hands-on experiences, like programmable Sphero robots, and unplugged lessons, like the computer hardware museum from the Central Oregon STEM Hub.
“Students learn basic concepts using their bodies and voices to make these lessons hands-on, screen-free and collaborative,” said McDonald.
Many Bend-La Pine Schools’ middle and high schools offer computer science and programming courses, with more than 900 students throughout the district currently enrolled in such a course.
Students in teacher Don Carter’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Computer Science course at Bend Senior High have been working on some exciting, innovative projects since the beginning of the school year, learning advanced skills involved with assembling, programming and testing computers.
They recently completed work on what’s known as Raspberry Pi computers, devices designed to be an affordable way to learn coding and programming. Through a partnership with the Central Oregon STEM Hub, the computers will be used to teach students throughout the region how to code and program in a variety of programming languages.
“I’m very proud of the Lava Bears in our IB Computer Science course,” said Carter. “As part of their second-year studies, they completed a project that will benefit the Central Oregon STEM Hub and eventually students all over the High Desert Educational Service District.”