How can we broaden the CS pipeline? #CSforInclusion

These educators all around the region are pushing for more programs for youth in computer science; inclusion plays a pivotal role.

What would the world look like with more youth from under-served communities being brought into computer science?

On Thursday, June 20th, the two came together to bring us the #CSforInclusion Convening hosted at Hosanna House, members of the Remake Learning network gathered to further this vision of greater equity and inclusion.

Organized by LaTrenda Leonard Sherrill, leaders of the #CSforPGH working group, and Allie Mullins, rural outreach coordinator for Remake Learning, the event built on efforts to make computer science education more accessible.

The keynote speaker for the day was Dr. Nichole Pinkard followed by panelists representing state government and local government, tech startups, and education.

Data is an important guiding principle for making effective change. “We’ve had Dr. Nichole Pinkard detailing us the work they’ve done to support and promote an ecosystem in Chicago, specifically around looking at data.” LaTrenda says.

Earlier this year, Governor Tom Wolf announced $9.6 million dollars in PAsmart Advancing grants aimed to further develop STEM and CS in the region.

What does inclusion look like for computer science?

Computer science is a field with 17,000+ jobs within the Pittsburgh region alone and that number is expected to grow in coming decades as the innovation economy takes hold. Clearly, there’s a demand for skilled practitioners in this field. But will the future computer science workforce be representative of a diverse talent pool? How can marginalized populations be further engaged, like students with exceptionalities?

Robert DeFillipo and Beth Whitney are educators of students with special needs at Mon Valley school in Jefferson Hills, PA. Over time, the two educators have successfully implemented computer science into their school.

“One of the biggest things we looked at for accessibility was being able to differentiate instruction,” said Robert. “Being able to take some of the common concepts of computer science–things like computational thinking…problem solving–these are all things we had to figure out how to differentiate. For our students, it looks slightly differnet: computational thinking can be represented in terms of sequencing, cause and effect behaviors, following single-step and multi-step directions.”

During the 2018-2019 school year, Mon Valley School hosted its first-ever Hour of Code, with 17 teachers participating. This experience led to an increase in teachers integrating computer science concepts into classes throughout the school.

“It actually started with Mr. DeFillippo about 3 and a half years ago. I was a new emotional support teacher at that time, I had had more experience with autistic support and typical elementary school students so I hadn’t had a lot of experience with emotional support. He was having amazing success with his students in his classroom,” Beth recounted. “His students were so engaged in the lessons. And my students would see what was going on in there, and they were interested in it. And I’ve found when my students are engaged in a lesson, they have no time for behaviors. They are on task, they are engaged, they’re having fun, they’re learning.”

The teachers made a virtual appearance during #CSforInclusion with the following interviews Remake Learning recorded the week before:


For more info on how you can get involved with CSforPGH, visit our official web page. Additionally, the Remake Learning calendar has many upcoming events to attend all around the region.

Published July 15, 2019

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