Project Summary: Computer Science Fun Day

Teacher standing next to a row of elementary school students in front of their computers. One studnent has thrown his hands in the air in a gesture of celebration.Lead: University of Alabama
Contact: Jeff Gray
Contact E-mail:
Project Dates: October 24 and 29, December 10, 2012
Total Number of Youth Served: 70
Funding: $831.09

Project Summary:
Students with and without disabilities worked side by side in fun, interactive computer science and robotics activities. It was very important to be as hands-on as possible in order to maintain the participants' attention. It was also important to ask a lot of questions to keep the participants engaged and focused. The first segment involved programming a Lego Mindstorm robot. Two different demonstrations were performed, and the participants were asked to help write the subsequent programs to perform tasks such as dance to music and follow a line. By asking the participants to write the program, they were able to see how trial and error can be used to solve problems, as well as see success in their efforts. Parents and siblings were invited to attend. Below is an agenda from two of the events.

United Cerebral Palsy of Birmingham/University of Alabama eventYoung boy stands looking at white screen presentation
5:30 – 6:00: Welcome, Introductions and Pizza
6:00 – 6:45: Lego Robot demonstration
6:45 – 6:55: Break
6:55 – 7:30: App Inventor demonstration
7:30 – 8:00: What can I do with CS?

Auburn University Event
5:15 – 5:30: Welcome, Introductions
5:30 – 6:45: Kodu, Alice and Lego NXT team work
6:45 – 7:00: Pizza Break
7:00 – 7:30: Kodu, Alice and Lego NXT team work (continued)
7:30 – 8:00: Participants showcased their work in front of their parents and siblings

Project Impact:
Our overall goal was to increase Computer Science awareness among youth with disabilities. We aimed to demonstrate to the participants that there are numerous opportunities and loads of fun to be had in the field of Computer Science. Although not our target audience, parents and siblings heard the same information and were made aware of what Computer Science is and what can be accomplished with Computer Science knowledge.

The participants appeared to really enjoy the workshops. One student sent an email stating that he now wants to pursue more classes in Computer Science, particularly, summer camps offered by local universities.

How did this project benefit from being a collaborative effort?
Our collaboration consists of three organizations: University of Alabama, Auburn University, and United Cerebral Palsy of Birmingham. Each partner brought different skills and connections to the table. The academic partners (Alabama and Auburn) had the content for the workshops (Auburn provided the location for the first event), and United Cerebral Palsy had the connections to advertise to the target audience, as well as provided the location for the second event. Because of the geographical distance between the three organizations, Auburn University held and managed one event in Auburn, and the University of Alabama provided staff to lead the event in Birmingham held at United Cerebral Palsy. The third event will be held at the Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham led by staff from the University of Alabama.

As a result of this collaboration, we are writing an NSF grant that proposes to provide robotics training across Alabama to middle schools, with a specific focus on children with special needs.

Final Budget
Item CSCP Funding Other Funds Source of Other Funds TOTAL FUNDS
Event Facilities - computer labs, conference rooms, auditoriums, etc.   In-kind Donations • Auburn University
• United Cerebral Palsy
• Lakeshore Foundation
Event #2: Transportation $66.00     $66.00
Event #3: Transportation (12/10/12 estimate) $66.00     $66.00
Event #1: Food $181.23     $181.23
Event #2: Food $196.09     $196.09
Event #3: Food (12/10/12 estimate) $150.00     $150.00
Event #1: Supplies $171.77     $171.77
Student instructor and staff stipends   Volunteers • Auburn University
• University of Alabama
• United Cerebral Palsy
Total $831.09     $831.09