The WeTeach_CS Summit, held June 7-9 in Austin, brought coding, programming, and computational-thinking classroom resources to Texas K-12 educators. During this inaugural event, the Center for STEM Education announced the first ever recipients of the CS Change Maker and CS Mini-Grant awards. The awards were sponsored by Oracle Academy, Oracle’s flagship philanthropic educational program.
CS Change Maker Awards
The CS Change Maker Award is conferred upon high school computer science (CS) teachers who have made significant impact on their students or their communities through CS instruction.
Hardin-Jefferson High School, Hardin-Jefferson ISD
Joy Schwartz, in just one year, transformed her web design class from seven to 80 students with her engaging content and real-world approach to teaching. Her hands-on, project-based learning robotics class even created and produced an actual prosthetic arm through a 3-D printing program. Schwartz also created a robotic arena for competitions and trainings with items and supplies she purchased.
“I am so appreciative to Oracle Academy and the UT Austin Center for STEM Education for honoring me with the CS Change Maker Award,” said Joy Schwartz. “My students and I had an amazing journey this past school year utilizing technology in our classroom. The honorarium will allow us to continue serving children in need with 3D-printed prosthetics. My hope is that other districts and educators will join us on this adventure, and make a difference in the lives of others.”
Richardson High School, Richardson ISD
“It is an absolute honor to receive a WeTeach_CS Change Maker Award!,” said Vo. “I have a deep passion for teaching CS, and I enjoy sharing it with all my students. My goal at Richardson HS has been, and will always be, to continually improve CS education by offering more CS courses, growing the various branches in CS and encouraging more girls and minorities to experience CS. The honorarium included with the award will go towards the CS programs at Richardson HS, which include motion capture and special effects, agricultural science, medical and healthcare science, and cybersecurity.”
“I appreciate Oracle Academy and the UT Austin Center for STEM Education for sponsoring the CS Change Maker Award,” said Vo. “I thank Charles Bruner, principal at Richardson HS, and Michael Westfall, assistant principal at Richardson HS for their gracious nominations. Most important of all, I have to thank all my students, past and present, who have worked vigorously and diligently to set the high standards of quality of the Richardson HS CS program.
CS Mini-Grant Awards
The CS Mini-Grant is an award for Texas teachers to fund instructional resources and materials in the support of K-12 computer science education.
Cele Middle School, Pflugerville ISD
Margaret Dominguez, Cele Middle School, Pflugerville ISD, received the CS Mini-Grant so she can offer the Robo Round-Up program to girls at Cele MS. Through daily half-hour tutoring/enrichment time, she will use Sphero robotic balls. The grant will fund 12 Spheros, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Accessory pack and a Sphero EDU Nubby pack. There will be at least six Robo Round-Up cycles during the year, impacting 144 girls with potential to impact many more throughout the program.
“It is such an honor to have been awarded one of the first CS Mini-grants,” said Dominguez. “I am incredibly excited about being able to move forward with the Robo Round-Up program and order Sphero robots for our campus. I’m pleased that, next year, I’ll be able to extend learning experiences in computer science through this grant, especially introducing more girls to the field. I’ve already had students asking how they can join the fun! It’s going to be a great year of STEAM in the library thanks to the WeTeach_CS Mini-Grant Award and Oracle Academy.”
Del Valle Elementary, Del Valle ISD
Juan Orozco, Del Valle Elementary, Del Valle ISD, received the CS Mini-Grant Award so he can expand the grade 3-5 after-school Robotics and Coding program increasing exposure to STEM concepts for students. It is modeled after a pilot program using Spheros SPRK robots. Orozco will use the grant to double the number of robots available, improve students’ math skills, and promote excellence for his Title 1 elementary school serving a high poverty, majority-minority student population.
“As we prepare our students for a future that hasn’t been written yet, Computer Science needs to be as common place in education as reading and writing,” said Orozco. “CS is the literacy of the future, so let’s prepare our students for their future now.”
The WeTeach_CS Summit was sponsored by the Texas Regional Collaboratives, which is headquartered at The University of Texas at Austin Center for STEM Education. The Center is a research, teaching, and service unit located in the College of Education. Its mission is to improve the teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science.