Coding for Kids
Teacher Training and Expanded Student Lessons Added to Free Pathfinders Computer Science Learning Platform
New Infosys Foundation Initiative Includes Learning Tracks for K-12 as well as Adults Seeking Digital Skills, Career Change
- By Kristal Kuykendall
Infosys Foundation USA has launched a new Springboard digital skills initiative in the United States to provide educators, students, and aspiring professionals with free training and instructional content in computer science and coding.
Infosys Foundation USA first introduced free online computer science lessons in early 2020 through its Pathfinders Online Institute for K–12 students, teachers, and families. The instructional content has been newly expanded as part of the Springboard program debut, and the foundation has added new computer science learning resources for postsecondary students and adults seeking new digital skills for a career change, according to a news release.
“We know that technology jobs are exploding across the US, however only 51% of US public high schools teach computer science,” said Infosys Foundation USA Executive Director Kate Maloney. “It is imperative that we all work together to start early, investing in the generations who will need digital skills to thrive in the 21st century economy. Infosys Foundation USA is all-in to support the commitment to bring lifelong digital skills across the U.S. so that all can fully participate in the technology opportunities of the future.”
The initiative is led by computer science education experts, curriculum partners, nonprofits and educational institutions, Infosys Foundation USA said.
The Pathfinders Online Institute now offers free access to dynamic computer science and maker education content for K–12 teachers, students, and families, including live events, on-demand courses, professional development, as well as free kits and instructional licenses to enrich the K–12 classroom.
Helping Teachers Learn to Teach Computer Science
The first section of professional development content for teachers with little or no computer science expertise comprises live online classes for teachers such as “Introduction to Micro:bit and Project Trix,” where educators can learn how to use Micro:bit and Project Trix in their classrooms, see live demos, ask questions, and discover eight cross-curricular activities for teachers grades 3–5.
The live webinars will be made available on YouTube after the initial sessions, according to the Pathfinders website.
Other resources for teachers include professional development content, video instruction, mini-lessons and instructional resources to use with students, for teachers in grades K–12.
A sample of the professional development content already available on the Pathfinders site includes:
- Broadening Participation in Computer Science, from AspireIT, for teachers of grades K–12
- Cultural Connections with Hummingbird (maker education), from BirdBrain Technologies, for teachers of grades 4–12
- Programming Essentials in Scratch, from Raspberry Pi Foundation, for teachers of grades 4–8
- Micro:bit lessons for Computer Science, from Micro:bit Educational Foundation, for teachers of grades 3–5
- Coding Music in Python, from Black Girls Code, for teachers of grades 6–12
- Learning in the Making Technology Mini-Series (maker education), from MakerEd, for teachers of grades 6–12.
Streamable Computer Science Lessons for K–5
The Pathfinders website also includes five different streamable computer science courses for grades K–5 that allow any educator to teach computer science with zero experience, training, or budget. Each course includes a “quick-prep teacher guide,” and each course provides 10 lessons totaling 20 hours of computer science instruction per grade.
The Kode5 streamable courses provided by CSisElementary.org include:
- Artificial Intelligence for Early Elementary, for grades K–2
- Artificial Intelligence for Upper Elementary, for grades 3–6
- First Steps, for grades PreK–1
- Start to Code, for grades 1-3
- Intro to Scratch, for grades 3–6
Content for Families and Student Learning at Home
The Pathfinders website also has resources for families to incorporate computer science concepts and learning during at-home activities, with Spanish-language versions of most content also available.
The first such offering, Digital Making at Home for grades 2–12, is a four-part code-along video series from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The theme of the series is wellbeing, with each video offering learners the opportunity to create their own project in Scratch, starting with the basics and progressing to new skills and programming concepts. The videos can be watched in order or separately and are suitable for learners ages 7 and older who are beginner or intermediate coders. Students can participate on their own or with the help of a guardian or educator, depending on their comfort level using technology.
Additional family computer science learning resources include:
- Digital Making at Home, for grades 2–12
- Code at Home Guide, for grades K–5
- Family Code Night Video, for grades K–5
- Raft Design Challenge, for grades K–12
- Coding with Botguy, for grades K–12
- MakeCode for Minecraft: Education Edition, for grades 2–12
- MakeCode in the Kitchen, for grades 2–12
- MakeCode for Micro:bit Overview, for grades 2–12
- MakeCode Arcade – Chase the Pizza, for grades 2–12
The site also offers video lessons, instruction, and challenges that students can complete on their own from organizations such as Co-Build19, Tech Kids Unlimited, and Project Invent.
A sampling of the video lessons for students learning at home includes topics such as:
- Intro to Cricuit Maker, grades 6–12
- Game Design with Ready Maker, grades 6–12
- Game Design with Twine, grades 4–12
- Micro Maker Empathy Experiement: Toast Challenge, grades K–12
- Co-Build19: Whoville Challenge, grades K–12
- Co-Build19: Blackout Poetry Challenge, grades 9–12
- Intro to Python with CodeSpace and Micro:bit, grades 6–12
For more information about K–12 resources or to access the free content, visit the Pathfinders Online Institute website.
Learn more about the Springboard initiatives for computer science “upskilling” resources for adults at the Infosys website.
Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can
be reached at [email protected].