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What we do in Elementary School

 Computer Science tools and resources used in Elementary Schools in Maryland (and some you might want to consider)

Find resources for:



Computer Programming

ScratchJr.--Coding is the new literacy! With ScratchJr, young children (ages 5-7) can program their own interactive stories and games. In the process, they learn to solve problems, design projects, and express themselves creatively on the computer. ScratchJr. was originally designed as a tablet app but is now available as a download for computers in beta. Find resources on the, ScratchJr. Connect, and through BootUp PD (see below). FREE of charge.

Scratch--is a block based computer programming language. With Scratch, people can create a wide variety of interactive media projects—animations, stories, games, and more—and share those projects with others in an online community. FREE of charge.

Resources to support teaching Scratch

CSFirst-- was built by educators who wanted a tool that allowed every teacher to teach computer science, even if they weren't tech experts. So they developed a curriculum that made it easy to teach and integrated into a wide range of classrooms. CSFirst uses a version of Scratch in a closed environment and can be used by those who have never programmed as well as those with some expertise. FREE of charge

Canon Labs --Scratch Act 1 is an introductory Scratch curriculum consisting of 5 modules and the Scratch Charades activity, with about 12 hours of instruction. After completing Scratch Act 1, students are ready for  Scratch Encore--has an emphasis on equity and inclusion for all underrepresented populations. Their philosophy is to accomplish this through a blend of structure and variation to balance concrete goals with encouraging creativity. The curriculum includes choice for students and instructors, structured tasks with automatic scoring and open-ended challenges. Teachers have to create a free account to access materials as they are part of an ongoing research project. FREE of charge

BootUp PD--Through long-term professional development, BootUp trains teachers to empower their students as they become creators, collaborators, communicators, logical thinkers, and real-world problem-solvers. Our professional development facilitators prepare teachers to become confident and effective mentors by teaching computer science and computational thinking concepts, sharing pedagogical content knowledge, and supporting professional learning communities. Our collaborative approach includes hands-on learning, model teaching, peer coaching, and PLC/CoP support. Each PD session models and discusses lessons in Scratch and ScratchJr and uses the TPACK framework to introduce and model technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge within a group setting. These projects enable students to explore their interests with code through design, music, art, animation, games, or stories. Educators learn how to support their students as facilitators, not lecturers, and learn where to locate additional resources to help their students. Curriculum is FREE of charge. The professional development has a COST.

Creative Computing Curriculum--The activities in this curricular resource are designed to support familiarity and increasing fluency with computational creativity and computational thinking, while building on students' creativity and personal interests. In particular, the activities encourage exploration of key computational thinking concepts (sequence, loops, parallelism, events, conditionals, operators, data) and key computational thinking practices (experimenting and iterating, testing and debugging, reusing and remixing, abstracting and modularizing).

See resources from the monthly Scratch meet ups. CS Fundamentals--The six Computer Science Fundamentals courses are flexibly designed for teachers new to CS who want to offer accessible and equitable introductory CS courses to their students. These courses dan be taught as part of your classroom schedule, weekly lab or library time, supporting lessons for math and language arts, or to make creative projects. FREE of charge. FREE professional development for Maryland Public School educators is offered throughout the year and in the summer. 

Unruly Splats--is the only coding for kids educational product that combines coding with physically active play! Splats are great for incorporating coding for kids into any STEM or PE class and are meant to be shared across the school. Use Splats in K-8 STEM classes, computer science classes, library, music, and PE. Students use the Splats app on an iPad or Chrome browser to code the rules that tell Splats when to light up, make sounds and collect points. Students code, create and play games like: relay races, dance games, whack-a-mole and obstacle courses! If you’re looking to take your STEM program to the next level and incorporate coding for kids and play across your school, Splats Memberships have everything you’ll need to get started. SUBSCRIPTION charge.

CodeMonkey--is a fun and educational game-based environment where kids learn to code without any prior experience. After completing CodeMonkey's award-winning coding courses, kids will be able to navigate through the programming world with a sense of confidence and accomplishment. Limited FREE access, then SUBSCRIPTION charge.

Code Club--is designed for out of school time, but can easily be adapted for use in the classroom. The projects are easy-to-follow, step-by-step guides that young people (ages 9-13) use to make their own games, animations, and websites with coding languages such as Scratch, HTML/CSS, and Python. The projects introduce coding concepts one by one and let young people progressively build their knowledge. Adults running the clubs don’t need to be experienced coders. FREE of charge

CSisElementary--is the home of Virtual Family Code Nights as well as Kode5 courses.



Project Lead the Way--Launch taps into students' exploratory natures, engages them in learning that feels like play, and encourages them to keep discovering. PLTW Launch’s 43 interdisciplinary modules bring learning to life. The program empowers students to adopt a design-thinking mindset through compelling activities, projects, and problems that build upon each other and relate to the world around them. And as students engage in hands-on activities in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, they become creative, collaborative problem solvers ready to take on any challenge. All PLTW Launch modules are available in both English and Spanish. SUBSCRIPTION charge. 

Lego Education -- WeDo --is an intuitive hands-on solution designed to develop elementary school students' curiosity and confidence to solve real-life problems through engaging STEAM projects. Easily adaptable to fit any learning environment, WeDo 2.0 challenges students to define problems, ask questions, and design their own solutions—setting them on a path to become lifelong learners.​ Drag-and-drop coding makes it fun and easy for students to bring their creations to life. Our guided getting started activities and teacher documentation make WeDo 2.0 easy to incorporate into the classroom, even with no prior coding experience.  KITS have a COST. 


Virtual Robots/Virtual Environments

CoderZ Adventure Adventure introduces students the basic concepts of programming: commands, delays, repeat loop, and the basics of robotics navigation using mathematics. These basic concepts develop through gamified mission student’s creativity, problem solving, computational thinking and more.. SUBSCRIPTION charge.

VEXcode VR--   lets you code a virtual robot using a block based coding environment powered by Scratch Blocks. VEXcode VR is based on VEXcode, the same programming environment used for VEX 123, GO, IQ and V5 robots. We all know that robots make Computer Science (CS) come to life with real world applications. Now STEM learning can continue while at home for students, teachers and mentors with no access to their VEX robots. FREE of charge.

Minecraft: Education Edition is a game-based learning platform that offers educators a transformative way to engage students using Minecraft, and ignite their passion for learning! It offers special features for educators such as easy tutorials, classroom management tools, secure sign-in, classroom collaboration and tons of sample lessons, plus a global network of mentors and tech support. Educators in grades K-12 are using Minecraft: Education Edition to teach a range of subjects, from history and chemistry to sustainability and foreign languages, and can map lessons directly to specific learning outcomes and curriculum standards. FREE of charge for Maryland Public Schools


Robots and other Physical Computing

Edison Robots--Edison empowers students to become not just coders, but inventors, problem solvers and creative thinkers. Designed specifically for the classroom environment, Edison robots are durable, have no loose parts to manage and are simple to store. Edison’s robotic capabilities can be unlocked with ease through simple barcode programs for the youngest learners. Students can then progress through different programming languages as their skills increase. EdBlocks is a fully icon-based robot programming language that is super easy to use. A drag-and-drop block-based system, EdBlocks is intuitive and fun, even for younger users. Perfect for introducing anyone to programming, EdBlocks is ideal for students aged 7+ years old. EdScratch is a vertical block-based visual programming language based on Scratch. EdScratch combines the ease of drag-and-drop programming with powerful functionality and versatility. The result is a robot programming language that is easy to learn and offers a robust platform for computer science education for students 10+ years old. See Maryland developed resources for Middle School and other information here. ROBOTS have a COST.

Microbits-The BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that introduces you to how software and hardware work together. It has an LED light display, buttons, sensors and many input/output features that, when programmed, let it interact with you and your world. The new micro:bit with sound adds a built-in microphone and speaker, as well as an extra touch input button and a power button. Students develop fluency in concepts and languages of computer systems and foster digital creativity in your classroom. Students make the connections between abstract ideas and real world outcomes by working with software and hardware together: designing, building, prototyping, iterating (the experience of improving a design, as well as making mistakes and learning from them). Perfect for ages 8 and up. MICROBITS have a COST,  Emulator is FREE of charge. 

Mbots-are a STEM coding robot for beginners, that makes teaching and learning robot coding simple and fun. With just a screwdriver, and step by step instructions, and a study schedule, kids can build a robot from scratch and experience the joys of hands-on creation. As they go, they will learn about a variety of robotic machinery and electronic parts, get to grips with the fundamentals of block-based programming, and develop their logical thinking and design skills. Perfect for ages 8 and up. ROBOTS have a COST. 

BirdBrain Robots--  Finch is a robot that brings computer science to life by providing students an engaging, hands-on representation of their code. There are learning materials for programming and classroom activities. The Finch is recommended for students from kindergarten to college and can be programmed in Program in FinchBlox, BirdBlox, Snap!, MakeCode / JavaScript, Python, Java, Swift, Kotlin. Hummingbird Robotics Kit consists of lights, motors, and sensors and is an easy-to-use, creative robotics tool which allows students to design, build, and program a personally meaningful robot out of any materials, with any device, in multiple programming languages BirdBlox, Snap!, MakeCode / JavaScript, Python, Java, Swift, Kotlin.There learning materials for classroom projects, robot building,  programming, classroom integration, and professional development. Hummingbirds are recommended for students from 4th to 12th grade. ROBOTS have a COST but are available to educators for two month loans FREE of charge. 

Wonder Workshop Dash --Kids can watch their virtual coding turn into tangible learning experiences in real time as Dash, with its performance and multiple sensors, interacts with and responds to its surroundings. A thoughtful design and approachable personality make Dash the perfect companion for both boys and girls, right out of the box -- no assembly (or experience!) necessary. Wonder Workshop’s comprehensive curricular resources enable teachers to help students practice computational thinking and develop 21st-century skills. The lesson plans are designed to meet CSTA, ISTE-S, and Common Core State Standards, and are aligned to’s Computer Science Fundamentals courses. ROBOTS have a COST

Cubelets--By harnessing their natural curiosity, Cubelets have helped thousands and thousands of children learn vital skills. More than just coding; Cubelets help teach foundational behaviors like problem-solving, persistence, and communication while building robots! Cubelets are used to teach everything from design thinking to engineering, collaboration, complexity, math, and more. Even advanced ideas like abstract modeling, systems thinking, and emergence can be explored with these deceptively simple robot blocks. Cubelets robot blocks provide three distinctive ways to learn about computational thinking while progressively developing more advanced coding skills. They’re the perfect tool for users of any skill level to build an understanding of how to solve problems with data. ROBOTS have a COST but they offer a 30 day FREE review for educators.

Dianne O'Grady-Cunniff, dogrady at usmd dot edu
Director, Maryland Center for Computing Education

Dr. Megean Garvin, mgarvin at usmd dot edu
Director of Research, Maryland Center for Computing Education

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Maryland Center for Computing Education
3300 Metzerott Rd. Adelphi, MD 20783
MCCE received initial support from the National Science Foundation, (MSP)2 Grant No. 0831970.