Coding class coming to BHS this fall

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Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 11:20 am

Two months after the Wyoming Legislature voted to make computer science part of the state’s Common Core of Knowledge, work is underway to bring coding to Buffalo High School.

“The amount of interest we’ve seen in this class has been really heartening,” said Cameron Kukuchka, Johnson County School District’s technology director. “At this point, we will have no problem filling the class with just juniors and seniors. Everybody’s excited and wants to be a part of this.”

Starting this fall, BHS will partner with Microsoft Philanthropies’ TEALS program to offer Introduction to Computer Science – a course adapted specifically for high schools and based on an award-winning University of California, Berkeley, course. According to the TEALS website, the course is a “broad-based intro class that uses the Snap! visual programming language to introduce students to computational thinking.”

The semester-long class will be primarily taught by Sandy Moon, but Kukuchka is looking for at least four local computer science professionals who will help team-teach the class.

“TEALS really pioneered this whole team-teaching scenario, and it works very well,” Kukuchka said. “Industry experts are the ones with the most knowledge of the material, and the teachers are the ones with the most knowledge of how to teach. By working together, this group of people can put together a great introduction to this complex subject matter.”

TEALS – Technology Education and Literacy in Schools – is a nonprofit founded in 2009. TEALS “helps high schools build and grow sustainable computer science programs through partnerships between classroom teachers and tech industry volunteers,” according to the organization’s website.  

If Kukuchka cannot find enough volunteer teachers, TEALs will provide teachers who will telecommute and help teach students. But Kukuchka’s preference is to find locals.

“That face-to-face interaction is really critical,” Kukuchka said. “There is definitely something lost when you are just talking to your teachers through a computer screen.”

Kukuchka said he is looking for anybody with a computer science degree or equivalent industry experience who wants to give back to the community.

Volunteering is a sizable time commitment, according to the TEALS website. A typical first-year volunteer must commit around 280 hours a year, including training, teaching time, prep and grading. The class will be held during the high school’s first period – 8:05 to 8:49 a.m. – to permit volunteers to do their regular jobs.

Kukuchka said team-teaching the class is a big commitment but the investment is well worth it.

“Right now, the number of people working in the computer science industry is much smaller than the number of jobs available in the industry,” Kukuchka said. “That’s why classes like this are so important – we are creating a critical workforce that will be utilized throughout the state and the country.”

You can volunteer for the BHS TEALS program at https://www.tealsk12.org/volunteers/. For more information on the program, contact Kukuchka at

ckukuchka@jcsd1.us.

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