May heralds a wrap-up season of the school year for many teachers. Testing is in full swing, final grades are due, and summer is around the corner. For the 2022-2023 Infy Makers Award Winners program cohort, we’re celebrating the past year of innovative and inclusive computer science and maker education led by educators and supported by the partnership of Infosys Foundation USA and Digital Promise.
Infosys Foundation USA has made a strong commitment to promote diverse and inclusive pathways to hands-on computer science and 21st century skills development through maker education initiatives such as the Infy Makers Award Winners Program. Infosys Foundation USA assembled a panel of judges to select 10 K-12 schools that are leveraging maker education to create equitable pathways for students to engage in computer science for a $10,000 grant. Award winners also had the opportunity to participate in the Making CS Inclusive cohort, a multi-month professional learning experience facilitated by Digital Promise. Utilizing the Maker Learning Leadership Framework, Digital Promise led monthly virtual sessions and 1:1 customized coaching sessions for educators exploring ways to incorporate computer science concepts across classes and grade levels through accessible maker education projects.
Incorporating computer science topics to the other classes can make the learning experience inclusive and diverse. At Tulare Union High School in Tulare, California, Eric York has been able to share the wonder of making with 3D printing and robotics. Eric’s class is learning about prosthetics and using 3D printing and electronics to solve real-world problems. Eric notes, “Currently, I am the only teacher on campus that integrates computer science topics in our curriculum. Thanks to the Infy Maker Award, we are partnering with the Introduction to Physical Science and AP Psychology classes to bring computer science maker projects to them next year!”.
Karie Huttner of Savanna Oaks Middle School, Fitchburg, WI, is empowering older students as mentors for younger students in 3D Design and focusing on community impact projects with making. Karie shares, “A 7th grade group that has been struggling transformed into the most amazing group of thoughtful and caring mentors. To be able to see the connections and the impact that both the older and younger learner are having on each other’s life is truly the ‘why’ of mentoring.” Karie found a way to reach struggling students through mentoring which made them feel included during the learning experience.
Nate Shilcosky at Forest Hills School District in Sidman, Pennsylvania, experienced similar positive impact with students as mentors, integrating technology and computer science across the curriculum. Middle school STEAM classes and kindergarten reading classes collaborated to build an electronic pioneer village. “The kids all showed a great deal of enjoyment and pride in the collaborative project. I was very happy with how this first attempt to bridge STEAM and the regular classroom together went. I look forward to infusing more and more classrooms and content with the help of our younger and older students in the future.” This learning experience connected middle school and kindergarten students, fostering early pathways to computer science.
This is just a sample of the amazing work these educators have accomplished with their students this past school year in the Infy Makers Award Winners Making CS Inclusive cohort. At the end of the month, the cohort will gather with Infosys Foundation USA and Digital Promise as well as alumni and other partners to share an end of season celebration. Educators will receive a goodie bag including micro:bit starter kits, Scratch Coding Cards, Merge Cubes, and Nettrice Gaskins’ book, Techno-Vernacular Creativity and Innovation: Culturally Relevant Making Inside and Outside of the Classroom. The goodies were made possible by generous donations and support from Infosys Foundation USA. These teachers will go on to join past alumni in this special professional learning community as they continue to support their students and each other with innovative, inclusive teaching and learning in computer science and maker education.
Learn more about this year’s Infy Makers Award Winners here. Infosys Foundation USA has multiple initiatives to support computer science and maker education including the Pathfinders Summer Institute, which offers 20 free, virtual professional development courses for K-12 public school educators from June-August 2023. To learn more about Digital Promise’s work in Maker Learning, check out the Maker Learning Leadership Framework.