An over-the-shoulder shot of a young boy using a tablet computer to create a 3D model with the help of an adult mentor.

From Incubator to Launch

A new playbook documents efforts to co-create a computer science learning ecosystem that bridges in-school and out-of-school experiences

There is no field of academic study, creative expression, or professional practice that has not been impacted by computer science (CS). When we consider the career opportunities in computer science, it’s hard to ignore how essential CS education is to the future prosperity of our students and our communities.

And while CS learning opportunities have grown in both K-12 schools and out-of-school time (OST) learning spaces, access, quality, and participation in those opportunities remains inadequate and uneven. What if we brought these two worlds together? Is there an opportunity to expand access to and improve the quality of CS learning for all students by establishing a unifying framework for CS learning across K-12 and OST?

That was the question that inspired From Incubator to Launch, a multiyear collaborative effort to build a learning ecosystem for computer science in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, especially for young people who have been historically excluded from such opportunities. With support from a PAsmart Advancing Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, partnering organizations ACLACitiParksRemake LearningAssemble, and Digital Promise teamed up to support the schools, museums, libraries, afterschool programs, and rec centers that are part of the CS learning ecosystem in the Pittsburgh region.

The initiative recruited a cohort of more than 20 teachers and out-of-school educators interested in providing CS instruction, provided them with professional development, equipped them with instructional materials, and granted stipends to create and implement original CS lesson plans for their students.

The CS Incubator Playbook documents the overall process of the initiative, outlines the course of professional development provided to participating educators, provides examples of CS lessons created by participating educators, and shares important insights to help others build on our experience.