Service-Learning & Volunteering

Middle School Pop-Up Computer Science

Pop-Up CS @ King Middle School

In December of 2018, 23 volunteers from Baxter Academy, Cape Elizabeth High School, USM, MEMIC, code.org, Girls who Code Scarborough, and Dead River Company came together to make the annual computer science outreach events for girls happen. 

Last school year, Service-Learning and Volunteering, with the support of a Portland High School intern, created an event called Day of Code to create interest in middle school girls for going down the computer science education pipeline. The percentage of women actively working in computer science related fields hovers between 17% and 22%. While these numbers alone aren't an impetus for action, the case for making computer science a more welcoming environment for highly capable women is strong. Day of Code was designed as an event to introduce middle school students to the fundamentals of computer science and went off with great success as a stationed, rotational event. This year, we expanded upon the Day of Code model and held the event at all three public middle schools in Portland: Lyman Moore, Lincoln, and King Middle Schools.

Among all of the feedback received from our first event, the parts that stood out were those recognizing the spectrum of tools, skills, and experiences of the computer science world -- that it's not just programming. This year, we changed our offerings to include concepts and activities focused on Leadership in Computer ScienceSearch Engine Optimization and MarketingInformation TechnologyCyber SecurityDesign and Encryption, to name a few, as well as cryptography and algorithms activities. This allowed us to expand the topics that covered and show to students that you don't need to program to be successful in the technology fields.

One of the most exciting features of this year's programs were that we were able to invite some USM Biology students into the mix to run sessions on Computational Biology and Genomics -- allowing students to see the application of technology in other fields of interest. To show that computer science is a tool to accomplish and further understanding in other areas.

If you would like to be part of this event via volunteering or organizing, please get in touch with usm.vista@maine.edu.