3 Ways to Integrate Computer Science into Your COVID-19 Planning

Mar 14 · 4 min read

As States Begin Widespread School Closure to Control Coronavirus, Read Three Ways Computer Science Can Be Integrated into Home-School Learning

As of March 11th, the World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Our personal media sources are crowded with health suggestions, updates, and news. Acting on those suggestions, we, as a society, now have moved to a more voluntary solitary “social distancing” approach, including schools being closed and moved to full home-school style.

Coronavirus has now impacted “at least 10,600 schools, affecting at least 4.9 million students,” according to a report from Education Week. And for many public and private schools, they haven’t announced when or if they will be opening back up for the spring term, leaving parents and caretakers with uncertainty about their child’s education.

With almost 5 million students’ education being impacted indefinitely across the United States, CSforALL has recommended ways Computer Science can transition and support your child’s learning at home.

Use Online Based Activities for Self-Paced Learning

Finding and adjusting to a home self-paced learning approach allows your child/student to design their own learning experience allowing personal interesting and learning preferences to be applied, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Tynker — You can request free access to the entire Tynker platform and curriculum if your school is impacted by, or planning for, a health-related closure.
  2. Codecraft Works — Create something you love with code, gain experience in professional programming languages, and share your portfolio of digital projects!
  3. STEMFuture — STEM education and make it innovative, safe, diverse, and impactful. STEMFuture aims to provide all youth with quality STEM education/resources, and give them basic tech literacy and computer science skills to help them navigate the technology-filled world that we live in today.
  4. Find more in CSforALL’s Member Directory.

“One of the benefits of computer science is that the projects often feel like games while students are learning fundamentals,’ said Leigh Ann DeLyser, Executive Directive, CSforALL. “ Many of the curricular resources online are aimed at novice teachers, so parents should not feel like they need specialized knowledge to engage in the activities with their kids.”

“We at Tynker and as a larger CS Community, are very concerned about the impact of coronavirus-related school closures on students and educators,” said Krishna Vedati, co-founder and CEO of Tynker. We’d like to do our part to help by enabling classroom learning to continue in a virtual manner.”

Explore Age Appropriate Unplugged Activities

Looking at “unplugged” activities introduces and gives the non-technical family member, care provider, or babysitter a way to continue teaching computer science and other subjects without the “technology” part. Engaging your child/student in this kinesthetic learning involves moving around, by physically engaging the people and objects around you. Check out these resources:

  1. CS Unplugged — A collection of free teaching material that teaches Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around.
  2. Exploring Computer Science is a full year curriculum with programming, but units 1 and 2 (Human Computer Interaction and Problem Solving) have great unplugged lesson plans you can use.
  3. The Hour of Code website will allow you to filter activities from multiple organizations based upon how much internet or device access you have (no computer or no internet selections available). You can also filter by grade level to find items that will work for your age group.
  4. iRobot’s Offline Activities provide a variety of virtual and offline coding projects in addition to other STEM-based learning activities to help keep children occupied and their minds active during their time at home. Some may require additional materials, while others will encourage the use of items around the house.

“This is a great time for students and families to learn and play with computing together, and many CS Ed resources are well-suited to online & remote learning. Use this opportunity to help your child surge forward in building skills and confidence in CS,” said Ruthe Farmer, Chief Evangelist, CSforALL.

Engage in Reading Activities about Computing and Society

What does this pandemic have to do with computer scientists and computing? A lot! Coronavirus has brought numerous articles and conversations on how computing is bringing geographical awareness of outbreaks to the public; making it faster to process models that could lead to a cure, and more. Share with your child/student the impact computer scientists and computing is making:

  1. Computer Science Students Build Coronavirus Tracking Website
  2. Scientists Need your Computing Power to Find a Cure for Coronavirus
  3. Stanford Group Wants to use Your Computer to Help Researchers Study the Coronavirus
  4. How Computer Modeling Of COVID-19’s Spread Could Help Fight The Virus

If you need access to internet or devices, check with your local school or providers such as Comcast, who are offering free or discounted internet packages to communities affected by school closures.

Check back on this blog for updated resources and tools. Stay tuned for additional Medium pieces with recommendations for educators and students.


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