The School District of Philadelphia is celebrating its 12th annual Computer Science Education Week, a weeklong celebration that highlights the District’s commitment to digital literacy and coding.
“Exposing our students to Computer Science, providing them with access to computer science education and showing them growing pathways to these careers is a big deal,” said Tony B. Watlington, Sr., Ed.D. “The COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasized the importance of Computer Science and elevated it to a necessary foundational skill for our students. Computer Science Education Week allows students to celebrate the opportunities that computer science and coding have in their everyday lives and further explore the possibilities that are available to them.”
Over the last twelfth years, the District has made strides in expanding access to Digital Literacy to just under 48,000 students in 125 schools across grades K-8. Students in these spaces are learning: Computer Science Fundamentals and Coding, Computational Thinking, Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety, Digital Tools and Media Research and Evaluation.
“We can’t be satisfied with our students just being consumers of technology, just knowing how to turn it on and use it shouldn’t be enough,” said Melanie Harris, Chief Information Officer in the District. “It’s our job to ensure that our students have opportunities to become innovative producers of technology.”
The District kicked off the week with an event on Monday at William Rowen Elementary School, the only known elementary school nationally that introduces young learners to quantum information science through our Quantum STEAM Laboratory.
“As someone who’s always been interested in science and technology, it’s my passion to see children of color have access to future college and career goals in science and quantum physics,” said Rowen Principal James Murray, Ph.D. “Computer science education is important to meet the national need for a STEM-smart workforce to address current and future demands.”
Throughout the week schools across the District will participate in the Hour of Code, sponsored by Code.org, designed to expose students to computer science through the basics of computer programming in a fun, 60-minute activity. Students regularly participate in coding activities during digital literacy classes.
Some of the investments and District-wide initiatives to further computer science education in the last few years include:
- Every child in every school has access to a Chromebook as part of the District’s 1-to-1 technology initiative, which launched in 2020
- Expanded our I.T. Apprenticeship Program with the The Urban Technology Project (UTP) to include a Software Developer Apprenticeship Program
- Creating and launching the Effective Strategies for Technology website to support teachers with activities to use with students, organized by grade band (K-3, 4-8, and 9-12), and content area (ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies). Each page is organized by strategies for student engagement, discussion and collaboration, higher-order thinking, and student generated products.
Computer Science Education Week is part of an annual, nationwide program organized by Code.org and runs from December 5 through December 11. The initiative is designed to inspire more students in grades K through 12 to take an interest in computer science.
For more information on opportunities for students in Computer Science and Coding, or to track how many students participate throughout the week, please visit: https://sites.google.com/philasd.org/hour-of-code/home.
Thanks to our local media outlets who covered the event!