AC Participates in Computer Science Education Week

Posted on December 16th, 2021 by swilliams

The Allendale Columbia Invent Center for STEM and Innovation celebrated Computer Science Education Week December 6th-12th. CSEdWeek is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn about computer science, advocate for equity, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners to the field. CSEdWeek is held annually during the week of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper’s birthday (December 9th).

At AC, students are exposed early to the world of computer science through robotics, coding, and more. In Lower School, students are introduced to coding during weekly STEM class starting in Kindergarten. For our youngest learners, STEM instructor Susan Layton’s platforms of choice include Kodable, Scratch, and robot kits like Ozobots and Dash. The robots are connected to visual programming applications that are easy to understand and familiarize students with basic concepts of coding. As students progress through Lower School, they further explore coding through Lego Education and building EV3 robots.

In Middle School, students participate in an Hour of Code activity. Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify the world of coding and broaden participation in the field of computer science.

In Upper School, the Applying Programming class has been extra busy this year, exploring impressive forays into what coding can accomplish. Mary ’22 built an interactive matrix that supports a two-player game of Connect Four, which she recently presented at the Rochester Maker Faire. She is currently working on tweaking the code so the game can be played with one person versus A.I.

The Connect Four game was created using Arduino, an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Arduino boards are able to read inputs and turn it into an output. Mary wrote all the code needed to create a “set of instructions” for the Arduino’s microcontroller.

Owen ’24 and Jake ’24 are also students of AC’s Applying Programming class, where they are creating a robot who will move through a maze. They are working on installing a gyroscopic sensor, a device that can measure and maintain the orientation and angular velocity of an object, to help the robot go in a straight line. They are hoping this will improve the robot’s ability to find its way through any kind of maze.

In Geometry, students applied systems of inequalities to code a simple game. A system of inequalities is a set of two or more inequalities, and they can be used to describe geometric shapes, such as triangles and rectangles. Keyboard inputs can be used to change variables used in the system of inequalities allowing for shapes to be translated (moved) across the screen. Amani ’25 demonstrates this in a short video below:

Students at AC are lucky to have access to accomplished computer science faculty, including:

Maya Crosby: Director of AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation
Maya earned her Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Rochester, where she studied science and communications, and then worked in biotech and scientific publishing. While at the University of Maine for a Master of Science degree in marine microbiology, she loved being a teaching fellow so much that she shifted her focus to fostering science education and experiences for all students. After several years of teaching science, computer science, and technology, she became the Director of Innovation and Technology at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, Maine. She also brings experience as a Developmental Biology and Microbiology Instructor at Bowdoin College, an Education Coordinator at the Gulf of Maine Foundation, a Science Editor for Blackwell Science, and a Research Technician for ImmuLogic Pharmaceuticals.

Susan Layton: Lower School STEM Instructor
Susan joined the AC faculty after serving as the Head of School and Teacher Programs at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Prior to her work at the RMSC, Susan worked at a number of science centers in Massachusetts, including the New England Aquarium, the Needham Science Center, and the Boston Museum of Science. Her career has also taken her into schools as a teacher in Georgia, and she has been a researcher of aquatic birds at the Bronx Zoo in New York and a researcher of bottlenose dolphins at the School for Field Studies in North Carolina. Susan earned her undergraduate degree in Biology with a minor in French from Hiram College, and she also has her Masters of Education in Middle Grades Education from Armstrong Atlantic State University.

Teresa Parsons: Middle School STEM Instructor
Teresa joined the Allendale Columbia team as a Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) teacher after spending 15 years in the engineering industry. She was a product engineer, then she transitioned into marketing and business development. As a business development manager, she created and provided product training, and it was in that role that she discovered her passion for teaching. Teresa earned a Master of Science Degree in Education from Nazareth College, and also holds two bachelor’s degrees in Interdisciplinary Engineering/Management from Clarkson University and in Physics from the State University of New York College at Geneseo.

Alexander Reinhardt: Upper School STEM Instructor
Mr. Reinhardt brings a decade of teaching experience to AC. He has held numerous teaching positions throughout North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC before moving to New York. He’s taught STEM, math, physics, coding and computer science. Alex earned his B.A. in Physics and received his 9-12 Science Certification through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also earned a Master’s in Software Engineering from RIT.

Philip Schwartz: Head of Upper School & Computer Science Instructor
Phil began his career in academic technology, teaching computer science for over 20 years before pursuing leadership in independent schools. Phil holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management from Elmhurst College and went on to receive an M.A. in Educational Technology and Curriculum Development from Illinois Benedictine University.

Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Invent, Lower School, Middle School, Uncategorized, Upper School

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