Computer science (CS) is revolutionizing all of our lives. Innovations in computation drive our economy and underlie almost all our advances in science and engineering. To flourish in today's world, everyone needs to understand not only how to effectively use computers and technology, but also computational thinking. Computational thinking is a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science; computational thinking enables individuals to specify solutions so precisely that even computers can follow the directions. Although computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everyone, not just for computer scientists, most individuals are not exposed to it
The primary objective of our clubs is to introduce the benefits of computation to the next generation. Our next generation’s scientists, engineers, teachers, entrepreneurs, and artists must all be able to innovate using computation. Therefore, we propose to introduce elementary and middle school students to computational thinking. We believe this is the ideal age because the students are mature enough to understand key mathematical concepts and have acquired basic computer-usage skills, yet are young enough to have few misconceptions about computer science. Our secondary objective is for students to obtain experience with the creative aspects of computation. One of the empowering aspects of computation is that individuals are not limited to being passive users of technology; instead, even novices can create their own original games, stories, art, music, and more.
In this course, each UW student is part of a small team (2-4 UW students) responsible for leading an afterschool (or Saturday) club. The clubs are held weekly and target the same group of kids each week. Each UW student is expected to be a club setting for at least 10 hours over the semester; the afterschool clubs are all 1 hour each and run for 10-12 weeks, while the weekend clubs are 1.5 hours. UW students are expected to spend time preparing content for each club meeting; most of the content is centered around programming in Scratch (see http://scratch.mit.edu).