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Science Nation: Education Research Team Successfully Launches Innovative Computer Science Curriculum

4 minutes

(Describer) In an animation, streams of light collide to create a globe filled with water. Title: Science Nation. A small robot on three wheels spins around.

(male narrator) How do you stop your robot from going in circles? It's not your typical high school problem.

(female) It's supposed to turn in a square.

(Describer) It stops.

(narrator) Programing robots is one of the challenges the students take on in this "Exploring Computer Science," or ECS, class in Los Angeles.

(female #2) There were great disparities in opportunities in computer science that fell along race and socioeconomic lines.

(narrator) With support from the National Science Foundation, education researcher Jane Margolis investigated why so few girls and underrepresented minorities are learning computer science. She and her team at UCLA developed ECS to reverse that trend.

(female #2) It's for getting kids to understand the problem-solving that is at the heart of computer science.

(female teacher) What do we do to correct it?

(Describer) A large class of teenagers listens to a teacher.

(narrator) ECS is tailored to interest all kids, but especially a diverse mix living in low-income areas. My family was poor when we came here.

(female #3) This class is not only computers, but it's also career focused.

(narrator) The curriculum encourages hands-on learning.

(female #2) The kids are let loose to explore and are really encouraged to collaborate with each other, to brainstorm together, to work together to solve the problem and to be creative.

(narrator) Like squaring away that robot.

(female #4) It's complicated 'cause you have to get the codes right.

(Describer) It moves in a square.

If you miss one little thing, you know, it's all wrong.

(narrator) Students learn how to think about problems, to create and use technology to express themselves.

(female #5) This is my robot Bombay. I'm programming it to do music since I'm a musician.

(Describer) A similar robot sits on a table.

This class is amazing. I can never stop learning.

(narrator) Teacher development is a critical part of making ECS a success in the classroom.

(Describer) Teacher Leslie Aronson:

Here's the challenge.. If you're just following directions, your job is gonna be automated-- a low-skill job that's probably gonna go away. We need to learn how to be thinkers, problem-solvers, and learn how to ask questions.

(narrator) ECS is having a real impact. Y'shua Ortiz took the course and is now working full time for the Web-based company Edlio. Oh, it's great, it's pretty much been the best opportunity I've ever had. I wouldn't be even close to here if it wasn't for that program.

(narrator) ECS is being taught in schools across the U.S. Thanks to Margolis's research, this curriculum is introducing more kids to the creative possibilities in computer science.

(Describer) A globe turns beside the title.

For Science Nation, I'm Miles O'Brien.

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Jane Margolis is an educator and researcher at UCLA, who has dedicated her career to addressing under-representation in the field. Her work inspires students from diverse backgrounds to study computer science and to use their knowledge to help society. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Margolis and her team investigated why so few girls and under-represented minorities are learning computer science. They developed Exploring Computer Science, or ECS, to reverse the trend. Part of the National Science Foundation Series “Science Nation.”

Media Details

Runtime: 4 minutes

Science Nation
Episode 1
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 2
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 3
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 4
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 5
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 6
4 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 7
4 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 8
4 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 9
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 10
4 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12