Local teachers attend coding bootcamp

Jane Ridgeway/ Town CrieR
Elise Kuypers, front left, a STEM teacher at Oak Avenue School, and Alison Mort, a sixth-grade teacher at Springer School, power through a coding challenge at Foothill College’s Computer Science Crash Course for educators last month.

Far from the carefree poolside summer break one might imagine for teachers, local educators this month signed up in droves for Foothill College’s intensive Computer Science Crash Course. The workshop, offered at the Krause Center for Innovation, filled both the June and July sessions within days and overflowed to a waitlist.

Funded by a CS4HS award from Google Inc. supporting the teaching of computer science in high school, the four-day bootcamp bolstered teachers’ own coding skills while focusing on how to implement computer science content in the classroom.

“It’s really about students, not teachers,” said Liane Freeman, strategy and marketing director for KCI.

In a packed room at Foothill, approximately 30 teachers from across Santa Clara and San Mateo counties spent the final day of the crash course hard at work on coding challenges, comprising everything from a Rock, Paper, Scissors game to an analytical project working with climate data.

Participants ranged from coding novices to current computer science teachers looking for new ideas. Accordingly, teachers’ desired outcomes varied, with many intending to integrate coding and computational thinking lessons into associated disciplines, and others aiming to qualify to teach computer science elective classes.

Program Director Sheena Vaidyanathan said the program is a response to existing demand for coding education.

“So many schools would offer (computer science) if they had a teacher,” Vaidyanathan said.

The course was designed and taught by working teachers – led by Vaidyanathan, who during the school year is a computer science teacher in the Los Altos School District – in collaboration with other educators from Castilleja School, Gunn High School and Nueva School.

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