Simone Young, Coordinator of STEM Education
Charles County Public Schools
My first CS experience was just after high school. I did a summer program for minority students that included CS and then went on to college to major in biology and chemistry. I did take a college-level CS class and I did not like it much! I started teaching secondary science and then became an instructional resource teacher and I became the STEM coordinator in the early days when STEM was focused on the ‘S’ for science. It shifted over time to include the ‘E’ for engineering and I had to teach myself how to program Lego robots when MESA was brought into Charles County because I had to provide support and training for the teachers who were leading the clubs. Over time MESA added more and more “smart” competitions that included various robots, app development, and lots of programming elements. It was a challenge because I had to recruit a wide variety of teachers to lead the clubs at every school including art and music teachers because they have the creative element... but it was very rare to find a teacher with any coding experience when we first started the program!
Something I have noticed about computer science is that the approach to CS has changed over time. It used to be very tech-focused just on the details. It was more about how to make something work and less about understanding how computing fits into real-life situations. Now it is more focused on problem solving and innovation. Give students a stimulus and give them an issue and there is somewhere you can use a computer as part of the solution. It used to be just programming for programming's sake. That’s hard to get excited about. But if you need to program a baby heart monitor to protect the life of a baby, that’s real, and it matters.
I’ve watched many people succeed on the journey to master coding and computing. My husband teaches engineering and he invested his own time to learn computer science by attending introductory workshops and then working on his own to master the Vex programming needed for the high school engineering coursework that he teaches.
Read more about the CS program in Charles County Public Schools.