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RIT helps grade school students Get Connected to computing

March 27, 2018 
by Scott Bureau

More than 50 Rochester-area grade school students are now dreaming of careers in computing after attending Rochester Institute of Technology’s Get Connected events this February and March.

The free workshops gave 8th–10th grade students a taste of computing and highlighted different areas of the field. Get Connected is part of the “Computing for All” initiative in RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.

“This was an eye-opening experience for me,” said Nathan Hong, an eighth-grade student at Siena Catholic Academy. “The workshops were fun. This really gave me a chance to see what the computing industry is like.”

The four-hour-long Saturday events tested the students’ ability to problem solve, communicate ideas, create and design. There were workshops in Scratch (a visual programming language), 3D printing and design, Raspberry Pi, Python and on web page creation.

No programming or coding experience was required—the workshops are designed so anyone can participate, regardless of experience. Parents and chaperones were also invited to stay for a workshop on network security.

Nehal Vyas, a ninth-grade student at Webster Schroder High School, noted that her favorite part was exploring the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi. Students got to connect a camera to the Raspberry Pi and learn how the Pi works with software to take photos and video. 

“The workshops were very detailed and interesting,” Vyas said.

The IST Department also gave students at the March event a Raspberry Pi 3 kit to take home with them.

Workshops were run by RIT faculty and students. Get Connected is hosted by the information sciences and technologies department at RIT.

“Helping someone learn and getting to see students excited about something you love is exciting,” said Isabella Sturm, a third-year web and mobile computing major and IST student ambassador at RIT, who volunteered at the event. “You never know when you will inspire someone.”

RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences established the Center for Computing Outreach, Research and Education (C-CORE) in 2017. Through the new center, the college aims to change the way that computer science is introduced and spark an interest in computing for students from all disciplines, backgrounds and ages.

Inspired by President Obama’s 2016 Computer Science for All initiative, the RIT program shares the goal of empowering students to learn computer science and equipping them with computational thinking skills needed to be creators—not just consumers—in the digital economy.

For more information on future Get Connected events, follow the ISTatRIT Facebook or email krmics@rit.edu.