Alaska’s PK-12 school system is embracing the teaching of computer science like never before. Educators across the state, and their students, have recognized that navigating the digital world is not just about being a consumer of digital content, it’s about the skills needed to create that content. And to become a creator means knowing the building blocks of how digital content is made using computer science.
Being a creator means that your individual insights and perspectives on the world can be represented and celebrated. Alaskan students experience the world through languages, cultures, climates, and geography that exist nowhere else. To ensure the digital landscape includes space for these unique perspectives, Alaskan students need to be equipped with the right knowledge to meaningfully share what they know and impact how digital spaces represent them. And because we know that Alaska Natives, women, and other people of color are historically underrepresented in the field of computer science, it is critical that we focus our efforts on giving those groups the skills needed to succeed in the digital future.
In a school year when many districts are struggling to cover the basics, Bering Strait School District has been busy building young scientists. For more than 20 years, BSSD has held a districtwide science fair, come snow or sleet or global pandemic. This year, amid closures all over the state, BSSD decided the show must go on – on line – with a virtual district fair that allowed student-scientists to present to judges remotely from their own schools.
Computer Science Education Week (#CSEdWeek) “is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science, advocate for equity in computer science education, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners to the field” (https://www.csedweek.org/). This year’s #CSEdWeek is focused on the intersection of computer science and social justice, and raising up diverse voices in technology.
James T. Hutchison High School or ‘Hutch’ as we affectionately call it, is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) school of choice within the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. We enroll approximately 100 students per grade, 9th-12th grade. In addition to our core 400 students, there are 164 students from across the district that attend classes at Hutch on a part-time basis.
Hutch provides an integrated learning environment within a culturally diverse community, where academic and career-technical experiences encourage a life-long love of learning, personal integrity, civic mindedness and preparation for successful post-school employment.
The Hooper Bay School Culinary Arts Class has taken on a life of its own since it began in the fall of 2014. Originally created as a 1-semester elective, it has become one of the more demanded classes in the high school. In addition, it has a following in the school and community, and students either from the class or those unable to take it, are often found in the cooking room after school visiting, cooking and cleaning or otherwise engaged in projects that support the school and community.