One-Day Activities for K-12 Face-to-Face Outreach

February 2015


Dan Garcia

University of California Berkeley

Wei Ding

University of Massachusetts

Joseph Paul Cohen

University of Massachusetts

Barb Ericson

Georgia Institute of Technology

Jeff Gray

University of Alabama

Dale F. Reed

University of Illinois at Chicago

The recent successes of Computer Science Education Week and’s Hour of Code have meant that more K-12 students than ever are being given an authentic, engaging and eye-opening exposure to the wonders of computer science. There are resources aplenty to help high school and college faculty with outreach. These range from easy-to-learn, open-ended programming environments (Scratch, Alice, Snap!), to online coding challenges (, Lite-bot), to non-computer activities with live performances (CS Unplugged, cs4fn), to having the entire outreach experience delivered “in a box”, thanks to NCWIT.

We wanted to bring educators together to share experiences with what they’ve done specifically with a one-day event, given these vast resources. Now that there are so many online coding experiences, it is enough to shuttle young students into a computer room, point their browser at one of these experiences, and answer questions as they come up? Is it important to include hands-on and hands-off (e.g., nifty demos, inspiring talks) components, and if so, in what order? What do different demographics find the most engaging? Is there any chance that we can do “damage”, since these highlight-reel experiences might over-simplify how hard some of the problems are, and that not every important result has a flashy payoff? Do some of the early experiences leave students with the impression that computer science is only (say) apps, interactive multimedia programs or solving mazes? Finally, when it’s over, what follow-up is appropriate? Participants on the panel will share best practices, common pitfalls, and advice.

Suggested Citation

Daniel D. Garcia, Wei Ding, Joseph Cohen, Barbara Ericson, Jeff Gray, and Dale Reed. One-day activities for K–12 face-to-face outreach. In Proceedings of the 46th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, pages 520–1. Association for Computing Machinery, March 2015. Kansas City, MO.