Pathfinders Winter Institute
Program Faculty: Katie Henry, Micro:bit Educational Foundation; John Maloney, MicroBlocks
In this class, inspired by the "Art in Motion" curriculum from Georgia Tech CEISMC, participants will design and create dynamic sculptures, using a BBC micro:bit and inexpensive robotic components to add motion, light, and/or sound to their creations. Participants will learn planning, mechanical construction, electrical wiring, coding, and troubleshooting, all while working on creative, hands-on projects.
The focus on art helps students who don’t normally see themselves as part of the computer science pipeline broaden their view of themselves as potential coders and makers. Participants will learn everything they need to implement this authentic STEAM project back at their schools. Each participant will walk away with a BBC micro:bit and a kit of robotic components. No prior programming experience is necessary, but participants must bring their own laptops.
Course offered by The Beauty and Joy of Computing
Program Faculty: Tiffany Barnes, North Carolina State University; Dan Garcia, University of California, Berkeley; Lauren Mock, University of California, Berkeley
The Beauty and Joy of Computing (BJC) is an introductory computer science curriculum for high school students to get a broad perspective of computing and its impacts. BJC is designed to attract diverse students, including females and underrepresented minorities, by emphasizing the joy and complexity of creating visual computer programs and with critical reflection on the impacts of new computing technology. Through BJC, students will learn about core programming concepts, big data, internet foundations, as well as abstraction, creativity, and social implications of computing.
BJC is an AP Computer Science Principles course, endorsed by the College Board, and supported through NSF-funded projects at North Carolina State University, UC Berkeley, and the Education Development Center. The Snap! visual programming language and research-based curriculum prepare students for the new AP CSP exam, however, attendees are not required to offer BJC as an AP course. Computer Science experience is not required for teachers or students.
"BJC Palooza was extremely helpful for teaching AP CSP this year. My instructor, Sean, was AWESOME. He did a great job of fitting each day to what we needed. The networking/friendships made during the week have been a plus as well. I have found the bi-weekly small groups during the year a great place to get questions answered and troubleshoot classroom issues." - Kim Overman, Ponderosa High School, Shingle Springs, CA
Course offered by Chibitronics
Program Faculty: Susan Brown, Chibitronics; Barbara Liedahl, Chibitronics
In this workshop, participants will use paper circuits to explore the intersection of media arts and engineering by teaming up to imagine and build interactive papercraft models of a “future city.” Participants will learn to build expressive circuits on paper with easy to use peel and stick electronic modules (LED stickers), copper tape, and a variety of art and craft materials. They will then program these circuits to be interactive using a reusable microcontroller in a clip form factor, designed to be moved easily between pages. Participants will learn to program their circuits with Microsoft Makecode, a block-based programming language that runs in the browser on phones, tablets, or computers. Finally, they will apply these techniques to a “paper city” design challenge, creating tangible paper models to interactively illustrate what they have imagined.
In contrast to traditional electronics materials like wires and breadboards, paper circuits makes use of familiar craft materials such as tape, paint, and stickers to build working electronics that look and feel like paper but, through the power of circuitry and code, can come to life with sensing and interactivity. Because paper is so common and familiar, learners can use the skills and comfort that they already have for creating with paper as a friendly on-ramp into the new world of electronics and programming. And because paper is such a flexible artistic medium, combining it with circuits also broadens ideas about what technology can look and feel like, helping to nurture artistic creativity and personal expression.
"The excitement on students’ faces when they accomplish creating their first circuit is priceless. The Pathfinders’ Chibitronics class allowed educators to learn to create and troubleshoot circuits while working to accomplish the task at hand. Through measuring, drawing, coding, and creating, all STEAM modalities are addressed in this hands-on training. Coding with LED lights to create personal masterpieces brings a form of confirmation of victory that our students need to continue to meet success. I saw this first hand during Pathfinders showcase night. I presented what I had learned about Chibitronics to high schoolers who got hands-on experience with the Chibitronics kit. They were blown away, seeing things learned in science class applied to real life through circuitry. The students worked hard and persevered to create various circuits; it was powerful to see students begin to assist each other with troubleshooting a broken circuit and then regrouping to try again." - Takia Toomer, Kettering Middle School, Upper Marlboro, MD
$0 (Free for Rhode Island Teachers after 100% grant funding from Infosys Foundation USA)
Course offered by The RI Code.org Regional Partner at The University of Rhode Island
Program Faculty: Karen Bryer, Code.org Facilitator
Rhode Island teachers: If you are interested in this Code.org professional learning program from URI, please go directly to the Code.org application located here. Please do not proceed with the Pathfinders “How It Works” application process.
Code.org's Computer Science (CS) Fundamentals provides course material for grades K-5 that fosters creativity and teaches students critical thinking skills to help them become proactive learners. The two day professional development (PD) workshop at the Winter Pathfinders provides participants with the ability to integrate Code.org's CS Fundamentals material into the curriculum and classroom experiences that they already deliver to their students. The material is flexibly designed for teachers new to CS who want to offer accessible and equitable introductory CS courses to their students as part of their classroom schedule, or as a weekly lab or library time, or as supporting lessons for math and language arts, or to make creative projects. This Code.org PD at Winter Pathfinders is provided by trained Code.org Facilitators. All Code.org CS Fundamentals curriculum and tools are free. All teachers receive Code.org Fundamentals PD certificates.
This training is restricted to Rhode Island K-5 educators, with stipends available for educators from Title I schools in Rhode Island.
Course offered by DevTech research group, Tufts University
Program Faculty: A member of the DevTech research group supervised by Prof. Marina Umaschi Bers, Tufts University
This professional development targets teachers working with young children K-2 who are interested in integrating computer science (CS), computational thinking (CT) and robotics into their early childhood classrooms with a playful developmentally appropriate approach. The DevTech group at Tufts University, led by Prof. Marina Umaschi Bers, has created both ScratchJr (in collaboration with Mitch Resnick’s group at the MIT Media Lab) and KIBO robotics, a robotic kit that can be programmed without screens or keyboards by connecting wooden blocks. It has also developed a pedagogical approach, called “Coding as a Playground”, teaching strategies and materials to integrate programming with other areas of the early childhood curriculum, with a special focus on literacy, creative problem solving, arts and dance. We will experience this approach through hands-on projects and model how to teach coding and robotics in an early childhood classroom. We will explore how to both take advantage of ScratchJr and KIBO for helping children think in new logical ways, but also for collaborating and developing socio-emotional awareness. Teachers who attend this PD will: Have the opportunity to become experts with KIBO robotics and ScratchJr; Learn and have access to already existing curriculum, videos and assessment materials; Develop and plan their own integrated curriculum materials; Have access to a set of program links and teaching resources at the K-2 level that include on screen, tangible and unplugged activities; Understand the pedagogical and theoretical approach by discussing excerpts from the book “Coding as a Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom” by Marina Umaschi Bers; Explore different techniques to document student’s learning trajectories; and Learn strategies for promoting home-school connections and community engagement through programming and robotics.
"I learned a tremendous amount and loved being part of this community of learners and the variety of activities. It was playful and instructive, we had theory and practice and hands-on and thinking and planning ahead for how we would use this with children. This can pervade every aspect of your curriculum! I just so appreciate that we’re talking about young children, and we’re talking about young children being able to do serious work, and work hard at it—that is really powerful for me." - Kindergarten teacher from Maryland
Course offered by National Center for Computer Science Education (NCCSE)
This course is free for the first 25 teachers who apply due to a grant from Google and Infosys Foundation USA
Program Faculty: Pauline Lake, NCCSE
CS Awesome is an Advanced Placement CS A curriculum equivalent to a first-semester, college-level course in computer science. The course emphasizes both imperative and object-oriented design and problem solving using Java, covering fundamental topics that include problem solving, design strategies and methodologies, organization of data (data structures), approaches to processing data (algorithms), analysis of potential solutions, and the ethical and social implications of computing.
The CS Awesome curriculum is available for free on Runestone Academy, an interactive e-book platform with many hands-on activities, sample AP questions, and programming challenges. The CS Awesome professional development workshop will introduce the curriculum and teacher lesson plans as well as inclusive teaching practices to recruit and retain underrepresented students in computing. The professional development is 60 hours total; the first 3 days will be on site with the remaining hours completed online over the following 7 weeks (~5 hours/week). Follow up support during the 2019-20 academic year is also included, led by the PD facilitator. Pre-requisites, if any for teachers: Some programming experience, such as CS Principles
"CS Awesome has been excellent for me... I would have struggled to gain the level of competence required in such a short span of time. Also, the materials/lesson plan and access to the CS Awesome community is invaluable. I hope that this course can be accessible for teachers with less programming experience especially in the short time frame that it ran"
Course offered by Firia Labs
Program Faculty: David Ewing, Firia Labs; Geri Ewing, Firia Labs; Amber Merrill, Athens City Schools
By middle school, many students who’ve experienced block-based coding for several years are ready to graduate to a text-based programming language. Even those with no prior exposure to blocks appreciate learning Python, an authentic real-world language.
A must-attend session for teachers of:
Participants will program the micro:bit and Firia Labs’ CodeBot using CodeSpace, an online platform that integrates engaging curriculum modules with a powerful Python development environment. Students are guided through a series of projects where they write Python code to interact with a device. Each project presents a practical, meaningful challenge, expanding the student’s understanding of each hardware system while teaching them the Python programming language one step at a time.
Participants will take home a Jumpstart classroom 10-pack, one CodeBot, and a full curriculum with teachers manuals, pacing guides, standards alignment, lesson plans, project remixes, rubrics, assessment, co-curricular labs, and student resources.The physical computing and project-based learning approach appeals to students otherwise uninterested in learning programming, as they seek relevance, meaning, and real-world value from instruction. Get your hands on some real Python code, and experience how physical computing can level-up the engagement for your students!
"Firia is doing great things for education! By the way, CodeSpace:Python is a hit with my students; they love it! They come racing into my room each day, get out their assigned box and are immediately ready to work. (I bought the photo box set like you had at the training for the Micro:bits - they work great). When it is time for me to take the students to lunch many days we are late because they keep begging me "Just one more minute...just one more minute" as they are working on their activities. They are so engaged that they literally don't want to leave. It is a joy seeing my students so excited to learn!" - Laura Collins, M.Ed., Discovery Middle School, Madison AL
Course offered by KISS Institute for Practical Robotics
Program Faculty: Carol Goodgame; Ashley Borgerding; Steve Goodgame, KISS Institute for Practical Robotics
The Junior Botball Challenge is a Computer Science (CS) focused education program that provides reusable robotics equipment, standards aligned curriculum and professional development for elementary and middle school educators (K-8) to enable them to teach their students computer science and computational thinking concepts coupled with real-life applications of the engineering design process. Attendees do not need any prior CS or programming experience. The curriculum is aligned to Common Core math, Next Generation Science and CSTA standards and vertically aligned to concepts and skills in middle and high school. The inquiry-based program focuses on discrete programming skills and engineering design concepts designed to improve computational skills and promote mastery. The program is currently being successfully implemented in over 900 elementary schools with a focus on education and impacting all of the students in the classroom or extracurricular club or camp. If the teachers and students are interested they can participate in one-day public events where student teams showcase their robot designs and challenge solutions. The program is sustainable as schools can reuse the equipment allowing for continued participation. The focus on education (computer science, engineering and math standards) coupled with the sustainability and the low cost of the equipment, which includes activity mats, curriculum, and professional development make it easier for all teachers in a school and not just the STEM, gifted or technology teachers that traditionally participate in these types of activities.
"I came to the Pathfinders Junior Botball Challenge workshop with zero experience with coding, robots or teaching computer science concepts. After the first session, I knew this was something that I could be successful at and was eager to bring it back to my elementary classroom. It was an AMAZING five days! I left with equipment, curriculum and so many great teaching skills that it pays dividends with not only my class, but also my weekly robotics club I started that has now grown to more than 50 students." - Jennie Clement, John K. Hubbard Elementary School, Noble, OK.
Course offered by Maker Educator Collective
Program Faculty: Adam Maltese, Indiana University; Casey Shea, Sonoma County Office of Education
Introducing the Maker Educator Collective Winter Bootcamp! In this immersive program we seek to develop the skills of educators who want to incorporate making into their pedagogical toolkit. The motivation for creating this program comes from our work with numerous educators who wanted to deepen their skills and understanding of the resources necessary to integrate maker education principles and philosophies into their classrooms. We designed this bootcamp based on our research and collective years of experience working with K-12 students and teachers.
As we have designed it, the three day bootcamp intertwines skill development and discussions of maker pedagogy through participatory exercises designed to model many of our recommended teaching methods. Sessions will provide you with skills and model lessons using hands-on engineering and design challenges, accessible digital manufacturing, microcontrollers and electronics and a variety of other inexpensive low- and high-tech materials and equipment. The focus of this session will be on training you to feel comfortable engaging your students in aspects of creative storytelling approaches, design, problem solving and basic prototyping. We will engage you in thinking about and exploring the pedagogical issues of making related to assessment, addressing content standards, integration across subjects, universal design for accessibility, and documentation through storytelling. You will leave with enough resources and skills to be comfortable engaging your students in making when you return to school.
You do not need any prior making, computer science or programming experience.
"It has not been often in my 28 years in education that I have experienced such a deeply life-changing professional development." - Principal, San Francisco Unified School District
Course offered by Project Invent
Program Faculty: Connie Liu, Project Invent; Rachel Hooper, Champlain College
Join Project Invent to learn about how to bring impactful making and coding to your school. We teach design thinking, engineering, and entrepreneurship as tools to solve real-world problems. Through this, we've increased female involvement in engineering and making at our partner schools by 250%! Students in our program have developed everything from a smart wallet that helps the blind detect bill denominations to a steering wheel attachment that prevents drowsy driving. We fully embrace the learn-by-doing model, so we will prepare you for mentoring invention...by having you invent!
Participants will go from passion to product to pitch to experience all of the roadblocks and challenges that students will experience throughout the year. We will show you how to use Arduino, Microbit, and/or Makey Makey as platforms for programming and building inventions, and we will introduce novel frameworks for how to make programming and circuitry approachable for students of all ages. You will leave this professional development with a strong set of tools for creating real-world context around making and programming.
"Dynamic team of facilitators who created an optimum learning environment. I'm in awe at the gift you've given us and your commitment to education. One of the best quality professional developments I've ever attended." - Anonymous Teacher Participant, Pathfinders Summer 2019
Course offered by Mouse
Program Faculty: Carlos Leon, Mouse; Chelien Brown, Mouse
The Scratch Creative Computing workshop focuses on a style of learning which supports the connection of a student’s personal interests and values to computer science. Creative computing draws upon their own imagination to express themselves with code. The curriculum consists of over 50 hours of instructional content that allows students to create animations, stories, and games with Scratch, a visual block-based programming language and tool created at MIT.
Through hands-on activities, all learners will be introduced to the basics of block-based programming, computational thinking, and creativity through Harvard’s Scratch Creative Computing guide. Participants then dive deeper in Scratch game design and learn how to use technology as a force of good through our Mouse Serious Games course.
This course can be integrated into a stand-alone technology block or integrated into math, social studies, science, art, or language subjects. No teacher prerequisite.
"I have been going to PD for 36 years. This is one of the top five ever! My confidence in teaching computer science has increased 1000 fold. This is due to the teaching style of Mouse facilitators and the curriculum. I can't believe how much I have learned about Scratch and programming in 4 days!" - Jo Reed, Scroggins Elementary School, Houston TX, Pathfinders Summer Institute 2018 Participant
Course offered by Tynker
Program Faculty: David Lockhart and Daniel Rezac, Tynker
Introducing the Tynker Master Educator PD! This training is designed for all teachers – whether you are brand new to coding or have years of experience. You will learn skills to bring coding education to your students in a deep yet engaging manner. Modules will include introductions to Tynker’s platform, curriculum, and approach to assessment; foundational Computer Science concepts; coding pedagogy; best practices for building inclusive classrooms; and ideas for fostering creativity and a Maker mindset. You will learn how to get your students excited with physical computing projects like flying drones and programming micro:bits . Mini electives will be offered for teachers interested in diving deeper into elementary or middle school curricula as well as for supplemental off-screen computational thinking activities. Teachers will model classroom interactions and develop skills with group discussions, exercises, and personal reflections. Attendees will leave this PD with the knowledge, experience, and resources to effectively support their students on the path to coding mastery.
"These facilitators were absolutely fabulous. They were accessible and very knowledgeable. They made me feel comfortable and encouraged me to do my best work. I would definitely recommend to my colleagues to complete a workshop with them." - Masani Stark, NYC, Pathfinders Summer Institute 2019 Participant
How to apply
For any queries related to Pathfinders Institute application process, please contact us at
Monday to Friday
8:00 AM to 4:30 PM CT
888-499-7700 or 763-447-3777