In order to encourage computer science learning across Long Island, a team of computer science students from Stony Brook University has been awarded funding though Google’s IgniteCS program. IgniteCS is a Google initiative that funds groups of college students who want to make a difference in their local communities through computer science mentoring.
The primary goal of the group, headed by student leader Alexa Rockwell, is to make computer science education available for every high school and middle school student. They plan on hosting after-school mentoring sessions that incorporate non-STEM fields into computer science lessons in order to combat the stigma that computer science is something these students cannot understand. After introductory lessons catered to specific student groups, the lessons will gradually become more complex and incorporate network programming and human-computer interaction or robotics.
The award from Google will fund an entire year of community outreach and mentoring, but can also be renewed for many years to come. IgniteCS focuses on supporting college students in sparking a passion for computer science in young minds, and Stony Brook’s team has much planned to meet these visions. They will be reaching out to local schools to host a coding competition, or “hackathon”. At this event, the first half of the day would be devoted to workshops, and the second half would be for students to show off what they have learned.
When asked what she hopes to accomplish as part of the IgniteCS endeavor, team leader Alexa Rockwell said, “We want to equip students with a skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility. This whole initiative started from my efforts to prevent my school district from falling behind when it came to educating their students about technology. With the help of my team and IgniteCS, I have realized that more and more schools lack the mentors to motivate them, and we are here to do everything we can to make a difference”.
The full team consists of Alexa Rockwell, Neal Beeken, Adam Catto, Jordan Felder, Kuba Gasiorowski, Ronak Kenia, Hannah Mieczkowski, Ryan O’Day, and Arslan Shahid, all from Stony Brook. Their faculty advisor is Assistant Professor Jennifer Wong-Ma. Rockwell also serves as the Vice President of Stony Brook’s chapter of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Organization, which the affiliation of helped to secure the gift from Google.