Computer Science for the STEAM Age

Sphero Edu
Aug 26 · 3 min read

Introducing Computer Science Foundations by Sphero

Last week, we introduced Computer Science Foundations, a standards-aligned curriculum that combines computer science with STEAM principles to deliver a wholly unique classroom resource. The courses are designed to work with Sphero BOLT, but also work with our SPRK+ and Mini robots.

We created Computer Science Foundations (CSF) to make teaching (and learning) CS simple, straightforward and fun. Over the years, we’ve heard from educators who avoid teaching CS because they lack sufficient knowledge, they can’t find proper resources or they just don’t have the time to create a comprehensive CS curriculum. Computer Science Foundations is designed to solve those pain points (and others) for educators of all stripes.

The curriculum is divided into 3 courses, with 24 lessons and 3 themes per course. The themes cover each letter in STEAM, including social-emotional learning (SEL). We think this is what sets CSF apart from other computer science courses. We’re using our polycarbonate robotic ball to impart lifelong skills like critical thinking, effective communication, and collaboration.

Let’s dive into one of the themes covered in Course 2: Empathy. Across 8 lessons, students will use their robots and programming skills to communicate clearly with their partners, offer praise and encouragement, and grow their classroom community.

In one lesson, “I’ve Got Your Back,” students explore the importance of active listening by sitting back to back and co-creating a program. They’ll have to work together and communicate effectively to complete the program successfully. When they’re finished, students will engage in a group discussion of how their communication evolved over the course of the lesson and how they can implement these skills in other areas of their lives.

In another lesson, “Good Vibes,” students consider the effects that bullying has in the community with an infrared communication program. The teacher programs one BOLT to be the “bully,” and students use BOLT’s IR Communication Blocks to send a positive signal to the other BOLTs to help strengthen their classroom community and spread kindness.

Our mission is to make Computer Science Foundations more than your everyday, run-of-the-mill computer science course. We’re tackling big issues and fostering crucial skills — skills students will use throughout their academic career, and, later, as the future leaders and learners of the 21st Century.

By December of 2020, we hope to integrate Computer Science Foundations into one-thousand school districts. Next year, we’ll conduct an efficacy study, and the findings will inform future content and curriculum development.

But you don’t have to wait until then to give us feedback. If you decide to check out CSF and implement it in your STEAM classroom, please let us know what you think. We made this for you and we want it to work for you.

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