Computer science is a growing field. The more technology advances, the more jobs and opportunities will become available in the computer science industry. However, there is a wide gender gap in the number of people filling those computer science positions. According to The National Center for Women and Information Technology, girls comprise only 19% of all computer science AP test-takers, and only 18% of all undergraduate computer and information science degrees are earned by women. Technology is used by the vast majority of society, yet if much of half of our population aren’t engaged in the creation process, then we are missing out on many potential innovations.
In a recent global collaboration project that my 4th grade class participated in, we explored this issue while learning more about computer science and coding. We partnered with an all-girls coding college in Mexico City called Laboratoria. Our classes connected initially by doing a Mystery Skype with one another. Once we figured out the location of each class, then each class issued the other a coding challenge. The challenge was straightforward and simple enough: create something using a coding or computer science program that would tell about your state or country’s heritage and culture.
In small groups of three or four, my students created presentations using the coding program Scratch. Most of my students hadn’t had much experience using Scratch, but it was intuitive enough that they were able to figure it out as they went. The few students in my class with experience using Scratch were also great resources for the other students. They created their programs on Kansas symbols and important landmarks and history of the United States. We were able to take content that we had previously learned and apply it in a new way while exploring more about coding.
When each class was done creating their coding projects, we connected via Skype again and each small group presented their projects to the other class through the screen-sharing feature on Skype. The students in both classes loved seeing the creations that the partner class had made. The experience was also a great way for my students to learn about issues such as gender equality and global educational access, as well as have discussions about why it is important for more girls to go into computer science-related fields. Below I have linked my class’ Scratch coding projects and the websites that the Laboratoria students created. We look forward to doing this project again in the future!
Here is link to my class’ Scratch coding projects. Mr. Flory’s class’ coding projects
Here are the links to the websites created by the Laboratoria students.