What is CS Makers?
CS Makers is a middle school elective course for middle school students which is being developed through support from the National Science Foundation’s INCLUDES Program. The course is offered in four pilot schools of the greater Alabama Black Belt region to provide a strong foundation in Computer Science. Learning is fun and exciting through hands-on activities designed to build knowledge of Computer Science.
The CS Makers curriculum is aligned with the new Alabama course of Study on Digital Literacy and Computer Science which was issued in March 2018. The curriculum is focused on stimulating students’ skills as 1) Computational thinkers, 2) Citizens of the digital culture, 3) Global Collaborators, 4) Computing Analysts, and, 5) Innovative Designers. Lesson plans, assessments and pacing guides are developed in partnership with teachers and faculty.
The CS Makers course uses a pocket-sized programmable computer called the Micro:bit (l). The CS Makers curriculum using the Micro:bit is designed to engage students in authentic computer science experiences by creating code and making with simple circuits, sensors, and motors. The Micro:bit works with any web enabled device. Features include Bluetooth and USB connectivity, a display consisting of 25 LEDs, two programmable buttons, accelerometer, magnetometer, and temperature sensor. The affordability of the Micro:bit makes it an ideal choice for schools. A complete kit with accessories costs under $40.
The learning of topics in the CS Makers course takes place in makerspaces which have been established in each participating school. Makerspaces are collaborative workspaces where students gather to explore topics in any subject and learn in an experiential way. Strategies used in makerspaces are known to stimulate interest and persistence in any subject along with 21st Century skills.
In the CS Makers course, students convene in their school’s makerspaces where they are guided by teachers to work collaboratively to write code, build circuits and develop games.