To build on CCISD's existing strengths, CCISD staff began researching implementing robotics, coding and computational thinking immersion programs in CCISD. The programs are intended to give students hands-on experience with machines, computer coding and other STEM-related skills.
Superintendent Eric Williams said CCISD is already excellent, and such programs would expand upon that reputation. The programs would be built upon the district’s existing strengths, including technology integration, personalized learning, high academic standards and more, he said.
Through the programs, students will develop leadership and character values, continuously improve themselves while innovating, and have a sense of pride and ownership over their work since it will be interactive, Williams said.
“If we want students to demonstrate care to demonstrate citizenship, for example, if they’re working to solve real-world problems through robotics, coding and computational thinking, that is a real-world lab to develop and demonstrate core values, leadership and character,” he said.
Globally, there is a shortage in workers in cybersecurity and reverse engineering of the brain. These immersion programs would nurture students who many want to study such topics and enter related workforces, Williams said.
There would be three components to the immersion programs.
One would be VEX Robotics, which teaches students how to make simple machines, such as small magnet-based vehicles, officials said.
Scratch is a program students will use to introduce them to coding. They will be able to create simple online games, officials said.
The last component is Minecraft: Education Edition, which would allow students to learn how to code, develop a deeper understanding of setting, learn about perimeters and more, officials said.
Additionally, the immersion programs would allow for co-curricular activities, such as competitive robotics.
In 2021-22, CCISD will establish district-level steering committees to begin curriculum development, professional learning and implantation of sample lessons. Elementary schools interested in the programs will be able to apply, and about three will be chosen, officials said.
In 2022-23, the programs will be implemented. Eventually the programs would be expanded to other campuses, Williams said.
It costs about $221,000 to buy the startup materials for the programs, which CCISD will seek from community partners. CCISD will also use community partners to fund the co-curricular activities and professional learning costs, which have yet to be determined. The district in 2021-22 plans to hire a curriculum coordinator to support the integration of the programs, Williams said.
CCISD board trustees expressed excitement about the idea.
“I’m so excited about this,” said trustee Jennifer Broddle, who noted Williams’ background and passion for hands-on STEM learning is one of the reasons he stood out to her.