Tag Archives: MIT

Making computer science accessible worldwide with CS4HS

Last summer, K-12 educators in the Boston, Mass. area gathered at MIT for a bit of summer school. They weren’t there to brush up on freshman year biology, but rather to learn a new subject, the programming language Scratch. This is a snapshot of the Google in education group’s Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) program. The teachers gathered at MIT last July had various backgrounds and degrees, but they all attended with one goal—to bring computer science (CS) education back to their schools, and their students.

From now until March 3, 2012, CS4HS is accepting applications from interested colleges and universities for our fourth consecutive year of computer science workshops. If you’re not affiliated with a college or university you can still encourage your local university, community college or technical school to apply for a grant. In the late spring, after applications close, we’ll post workshop websites of participating schools on cs4hs.com for professors looking for ideas and for teachers interested in learning more about what’s being offered.

Over the course of the three-day professional development workshops, funded by Google and held on university campuses around the world, participants learn about programming software directly from developers and full-time CS faculty. There is balance of discussion, engaging project work and presentations. The workshops prepare educators to teach programming and computing in their schools and turn their students into computational thinkers and creators.

The need for more CS professionals is increasing faster than universities are able to graduate CS students, and CS4HS hopes to address this gap with our “train the trainer” approach. We provide the universities with the support they need, so they can provide local teachers with the tools they need, so that those teachers can teach students the skills they will need.

In 2011, we funded more than 70 programs that trained thousands of educators worldwide on various aspects of CS. In 2012, we are expanding our program to include more regions and reach even more teachers. If you are affiliated with a university, community college or technical school in the U.S, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China, Australia or New Zealand and are interested in creating a three-day CS4HS workshop, we want to partner with you.

Visit www.cs4hs.com for more information and details on the types of programs we are looking to fund. You will also find curriculum modules from past workshops to use or adapt, as well as a list of participating schools from 2010 and 2011. There’s also an example of a successful program and of a stand-out application to get you started on the right track.

Help spread enthusiasm for computer science in your community: When you’re ready to apply, submit your application online by March 3, 2012.

Android in spaaaace! (Part 2)

Back in December, Android ventured into near space, thanks to a weekend of DIY work, a couple of Nexus S phones, some weather balloons and the help of this little guy. After this first adventure, we knew it was only a matter of time before Android went further into space.

On the last manned space shuttle, Atlantis, NASA sent two Nexus S phones along for the ride as part of the STS-135 mission. The goal is to use Nexus S on the International Space Station to explore how robots can help humans experiment and live in space more efficiently.

NASA is using Nexus S phones to upgrade a trio of volleyball-sized SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites), originally developed by MIT. The phones help the robotic satellites perform tasks the astronauts used to do, like recording sensor data and capturing video footage. In the future, the phones will control and maneuver the SPHERES using the IOIO board and possibly the Android Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK).

A couple of our engineers built an open source sensor logging app that NASA decided was perfect for running diagnostics with the SPHERES. You can download the same app yourself from Android Market. NASA was interested in Android because it’s an open source platform, which makes it easy to customize the software on the phone to meet the specifications required to fly in space and work with the SPHERES. Nexus S was also a good fit because of its various sensors and low-powered, but high-performing, processor.

You can learn more about the project on NASA’s website. We loved being a part of the final Space Shuttle mission and working to bring the power of the Android platform to space exploration.