Let's Start with a little introduction. My name is Erik Leitner and I am a STEM and Computer Science Instructional Facilitator at Broward County Public Schools, the nation’s sixth largest district. I am also a Computer Science Fundamentals facilitator for Code.org, district coordinator for SECME, the county's K-12 STEM Olympiad, and leader of the districtwide roll-out of STEM initiatives such as Minecraft and eSports. I am certified in both K-6 education and K-12 Computer Science. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University, I have worked for Broward County Schools for fifteen years; serving previously as a school-based science educator, science coach, and STEM coach.
Each summer, I organize and facilitate a STEM camp known as ALIGN. The goal of the program is to give students from 6th - 10th grades an opportunity to engage in programs they would otherwise not pursue or have access to. This include other fields, such as debate, art, and music. For 8 days, I will have the chance to engage students who have never coded. The goal is to take them from "frustration to creation".
While I have worked with the Micro:bit before, this is always a fresh start as the students have never seen them before and, at most, have only experienced code through The Hour of Code. For most, however, they are a totally clean slate.
On June 21st, my materials arrived from Element 14, including both the Micro:bits and the Kitronik Inventors Kits and the planning began. One month later we had our agenda, our curriculum and we were ready to hit the ground running. After all, 8 days is not a lot of time!
For the first day of camp, students attend all for session; STEM, Art, Debate, and Music. They then choose a "major" that they will focus on for the remained of the camp. My goal is always to put the materials in the students' hands from day one. Doing is far more engaging than seeing. So, on day one, I introduced 4 rotations to the Micro:bit. This was roughly 200 students in one day! We used MakeCode.com to have them code their own name-tags. This is a very simple project and also gave us the chance to get to know the kids.
This engagement paid off! Of the 200 students, 60 chose STEM as their major. This was more than in any year passed and for the first time, STEM was the most selected option for the camp! I give a lot of this credit to both the ease of use and the excitement that the Micro:bit can bring. We even got selected by a large number of female, minority, and special needs students. I was excited to see where the next few days would take us!