Project Summary: Learning Computer Science through the Lens of Culture and Society

Lead: San Bernardino Community College District Crafton Hills Collegegirls points to computer screen as two classmates look on
Contact: Margaret Yau, Assistant Professor, Computer Information Systems
Contact E-mail:

Project Dates: July 30 – August 3, 2012
Total Number of Youth Served: 16 high school students
Total Number of Teachers Served: 12 high school teachers
Funding: $5,000

Project Summary:
Our five-day student workshop took place during the week of July 30, 2012. The event was held on the Crafton Hills College campus. The workshop targeted Hispanic/Latino(a) high school students in the Inland Empire. The workshop included presentations and hands-on sessions on:

  • introduction to the computer science discipline
  • computational thinking
  • soft skills (teamwork and presentation)
  • hands-on programming using Alice and App Inventor for Android
  • resources for learning computer science and STEM subjects
  • computer science higher education and career paths (including invited talks by local university faculty/staff and workshop
  • student group leaders)
  • resources on student opportunities (including an invited talk by Google education program manager)

Each student was assigned to a group led by a current computer science college student. A number of the activities were done in groups, with each group leader leading discussions. The student participants were encouraged to reflect on and share their learning experiences with their parents or family members each day of the workshop. They also reported their reflect-and-share activities to their student group leaders at the beginning of each day.

On the final day of the workshop, family members of the students were invited to a celebratory dinner and a showcase, in which each student presented his or her animation and mobile app projects. A Spanish interpreter was present to assist Spanish-speaking parents. Awards were also given to students who were voted for outstanding animation, outstanding mobile app, and outstanding achievement in the workshop.

Each workshop participant was given a workbook containing learning modules covered in the workshop and other resources on computer science education and careers. All the workshop materials, including bilingual learning modules (English and Spanish) and presentation files used during the workshop, are free and available on our web site:

Schedule:Two boys sitting in front of computer working on a paper diagram
July 30, 2012 
09:00 – Welcome, Introduction to the CS discipline, pre-survey
10:00 – Cloud computing
10:45 – Soft skills - teamwork
11:45 – Introduction to pair programming using Alice
12:15 – Lunch
01:00 – Invited talk (Google Education Research Program Manager)
02:00 – Introduction to programming using Alice
03:15 – Storytelling for culturally relevant stories: brainstorming

July 31, 2012 
09:00 – Review game activity, fundamentals of programming
10:00 – Animation programming in Alice
10:45 – Computational thinking
11:45 – Panel of student mentors sharing their paths in CS education
12:15 – Lunch
01:00 – Animation programming in Alice
02:00 – Drafting storyboards for culturally relevant stories
02:45 – Creating stores in Alice

August 1, 2012 
09:00 – Review game activity, software development process
10:00 – Introduction to Android with App Inventor
11:15 – Invited talk (UCR CS professor)Girl at a podium giving a presentation on her web application
12:15 – Lunch
01:00 – More on Android app development
03:15 – Brainstorming sessions on mobile apps

August 2, 2012 
09:00 – Review game activity, Building Android apps
11:45 – Soft skills – Presentation
12:15 – Lunch
01:00 – Continue Android apps
02:45 – Fine-tuning Alice animation and Android app

August 3, 2012 
12:00 – Lunch
12:45 – Finishing Projects, practicing presentation
02:30 – Mock presentations, feedback and voting
03:15 – Resources on student opportunities, post-survey 
04:00 – Invited talk on CS education and career (UCR staff)
05:00 – Celebratory dinner and student showcase

Project Impact:
The project provided a one-week summer computer science workshop in which 16 local youth participated.  Half of the participants were Hispanic/Latino(a) youth, which was our target population. The participants learned about the fundamentals of computer science and programming through hands-on activities. Participants demonstrated what they had learned in their creative animation and mobile app projects in their project showcase. Various resources on computer science education opportunities, including handouts and web sites were provided to the participants.  Four group leaders, who were computer science college students, as well as guest speakers, served as mentors and role models for the participants.  Family members of the participants were engaged during the workshop: participants were encouraged to share and reflect their workshop experiences with their family members, and family members were invited to participate in the final events of the workshop, including a presentation of computer science higher education and careers as well as the student project showcase.  Responses from students and family members were positive.  During informal discussion, more than half of the participants indicated their interests in exploring computer science further in the future.

As a part of the project, ten bilingual, open computer science learning modules were created.  These modules are freely available on the web.  The technological tools used in the modules are also free, and the modules can be easily adapted by anyone.  A number of the modules involve activities with the theme of culture and society, showing the interconnection between computer science and the world around us.

The project also implemented a two-day workshop for STEM high school teachers, covering topics such as computer science fundamentals, programming, and STEM teaching strategies.  By providing teacher training, the project helped expand the reach to more youth in exploring computer science and STEM-related education and career.

How did this project benefit from being a collaborative effort?
Our partnering high schools provided recruitment efforts and were responsible for promoting our project to their students (posting and distributing flyers and brochures, directly talking to students, allowing project staff to visit their classrooms and talk to students).  A significant number of participants were directly recruited by their teachers.

A number of local community organizations also assisted with promoting the project.  These included local churches and the City of Yucaipa community center and library.

A local university (UC Riverside) provided two speakers (a computer science professor who discussed his interests and career in CS with the participants, and an engineering department staff member who presented computer science educational and career opportunities).  Google, who partially funded the project, provided a staff volunteer to present educational programs for students as well as provided us with Android devices for app development.  ESRI, a local technology company, also provided a guest speaker to present geographic information systems at our teacher workshop.

The CSCP project provided resources, including an advisor, on reaching out to Hispanic/Latino(a) students.

Crafton Hills College provided facilities for all the events and provided various resources. The STEM Pathways Grant received by Crafton Hills College funded part of the project and provided staff assistance to the project.

Final Budget:
Item CSCP Funding Other Funds Source of Other Funds Total Funds
Event facilities   In-Kind Crafton Hills College  
Food $1,000 $899.40

Google CS4HS Grant

CHC Foundation

Supplies (stationary, awards, etc.) $328.00 $1,280.69

STEM Pathways Grant

Google CS4HS Grant

CHC Foundation

Spanish-language Interpreter and Translator $619.50     $619.50
Staff and Student Instructor Stipends $2,576.96 $2,218

Google CS4HS Grant

STEM Pathways Grant

Teacher Participant Stipends   $6,000 Google CS4HS Grant $6,000
TOTAL $4524.46 $10,398.09   $14,922.55