About halfway through the Colorado Academy Computer Science Festival, an Upper School volunteer came running up to Computer Science Department Chair Kimberly Jans with a mini-crisis. The check-in desk had run out of maps of the many activities, a reflection of the ever-increasing popularity of the annual event. Jans dashed across the room to print more.
She wasn’t surprised by the shortage when she checked the final numbers and saw that 62 families and 189 participants had signed up to attend. That record-setting level of interest affirmed Jans’s commitment to all the work it takes to pull off this annual event, which coincides with National Computer Science Week.
“My vision is for everyone of every age to have the opportunity to experience Computer Science,” she says. “It’s fun, engaging, and challenging, and the Computer Science Festival gives the CA community a chance to come out and learn and play! This is our best turnout so far, and for me it brings such joy to see students engaged in learning about Computer Science.”
Young students made their way around Raether Library, upstairs and downstairs, to try out a variety of challenges which included:
Fly a drone or try out virtual reality
Create binary bracelets and try binary decoding
Be a computer program!
Play and program Robots (Dash, Ozobots, Bee-Bots, Pro-Bots, and Sphero)
Meet our new iRobot Root
Try real coding with Hour of Code or BitsBox
Attend a Mini-Workshop with Osmo, LittleBits, Makey-Makey, or Hummingbird Arduinos
Interact with GoPiGo Raspberry Pi robots
Learn about MS FIRST Robotics team
Solve puzzles using Turing Tumble Marble Computers
Visit the MS Robot Petting Zoo
Design a Paper Circuit Card that lights up
Create an LED Circuit Bug
Jans had help from five other Computer Science teachers, including Upper School educators Michael McLaughlin and Kyle Gillette, Middle School teachers Laura Farmer and Thanh Luong, and Lower School instructor Travis Reynolds, along with three members of the Technology Department staff: Jared Katzman, Jonathan Ender, and Rory Butler.
But the night could not have happened without 23 Upper School Computer Science students and two Middle School student volunteers who explained, mentored, and occasionally rescued a runaway robot or drone.
“It is so much fun to take my interest in Computer Science and help younger students get interested,” said Senior Ryan Strong, as he checked in students at the front desk. “Computer Science is an important part of my life, and I want to share it with others.”