Schools

Student becomes teacher at CENG


Courtesy of Alice Lee
Isabella Borkovic, kneeling at right, smiles with a fellow teacher and students in CENG Summer Academy’s coding class for first- through third-graders.

I’ve always wondered why anyone would ever choose to become a teacher. The endless paperwork, pushy parents and unruly children all made me think of teaching as an extremely unappealing job.

But after I had the opportunity to teach at the Computer Engineers of the Next Generation (CENG) Summer Academy, my mindset toward teaching changed dramatically.

From Aug. 6 to 10, I gave coding lessons to young kids at St. Athanasius Church in Mountain View, a program organized by CENG. CENG ran two classes at the same time – one for younger students and one for older students. A fellow club member and I were responsible for developing the curriculum and leading the lessons for the younger students.

At first, the task appeared extremely daunting. Creating a week’s worth of coding curriculum and figuring out a way to keep a class of 15 first- to third- graders interested in the lesson seemed impossible.

We decided to create curriculum centered around LightBot, an educational online game for learning coding concepts. To keep our younger audience engaged, we split the learning portion of class time into two 30-minute coding sessions to help them stay focused. We also rotated them through different stations and added breaks, fun games and several arts and crafts projects.

Although at first I was unsure about how much I would enjoy teaching coding to kids, by the end of the week I was extremely sad that the CENG Summer Academy was over. Teaching a class full of young, enthusiastic students was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.

Every student came to class eager and prepared to learn. Watching each student improve his or her coding skills and grow as a learner was extremely rewarding. When CENG Summer Academy ended, each student left the classroom a better thinker, problem solver and coder.

Now, CENG is planning to broaden the accessibility of our classes to try to reach even more students. As part of this initiative, we launched the CENG Online Coding Academy on our website. The Online Coding Academy includes several online video lessons on Scratch and JavaScript, which were released this summer.

Looking to the future, we have many more plans for CENG. AI4ALL, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase diversity in the field of artificial intelligence, awarded CENG a $952 grant for the second time. With the money, we can continue to offer two concurrent coding classes at Monta Loma and Santa Rita elementary schools in the fall. Next spring, we will introduce our new AI curriculum, alongside our JavaScript, Python and Scratch curricula.

For more information, visit cengclass.org.

Isabella Borkovic, a junior at Los Altos High, is treasurer of CENG.

Local students interested in writing a “Student Voices” column can email Adanya Lustig at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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