A Simple Idea: Using Computer Science for Good
This Computer Science course for middle school students was designed around a simple question to ask and a complex one to solve: What website or app could we create to positively impact our community?
To start thinking about this question, we decided to jump right into the trenches and visit a few amazing local organizations in our community, so we could empathize and first understand their needs. We visited and worked with the Tahoe Food Hub, which connects communities to local food, the Truckee Tahoe Humane Society, which focuses on improving lives of our local pets, and Sierra Community House, which connects the community to resources around family strengthening, crisis intervention, hunger relief, and legal services.
Getting connected and hands on with these organizations offered us the opportunity to really understand what they do, how they do it, and any challenges they experience. Looking through the lens of Computer Science and problem solving, we thought about how to contribute to solving the problems they face.
During this project we spent time debriefing after each visit and then dove into the prototyping process. Students answered some basic questions around the need they were focusing on, barriers they may face in creating solutions, and planning pages, screens and features needed. Students brought their knowledge of programming to the project and after creating prototypes for each organization, they chose one to focus on actually building.
This website or app will be a project we come back to over the course of the semester with the goal of creating something that could be used and expanded upon.
We will continue to develop these computer science based solutions to support these local organizations. This website or app will be a project we come back to over the course of the semester with the goal of creating something that could be used and expanded upon. By the end of the semester our class will be able to present their websites to our school to talk about the purpose and impact and different ways we can help positively impact our community.
So far, these students have been excited to develop their academic knowledge of programming to identify and tackle real issues our community faces. The best part of it all – middle school students recognizing how they can use their creativity and power to make a difference in their backyard.