By: Blake Prewitt, Superintendent, Ferndale Public Schools
LAST MONTH, THROUGH THE statewide partnership of the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office and Google, Ferndale Middle School joined the growing list of Michigan schools utilizing the Google-based computer science (CS) program, CS First.
CS First is an online curriculum that increases student access and exposure to computer science education through after-school, in-school, and summer programs. All clubs are run by teachers and/or community volunteers.
A total of 26 students participated in the first after-school Google CS First club at Ferndale Middle School. The theme was storytelling, and students were engaged with creating digital stories through coding. Students used the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Scratch program which introduces coding through blocks and forms a foundation for learning other computer programming languages.
The program was so successful that the Ferndale Board of Education approved the creation of a new elective coding class to begin at Ferndale Middle School for the second semester of this year. This course will use the Google CS First curriculum to introduce students to computer science concepts through the semester using engaging topics like video games, fashion and design, social media, and music and sound.
Only one in 10 K-12 schools in the United States offers computer science classes. In addition, 75 percent of the population is underrepresented in computer science even though exposure to computer science leads to some of the highest paying jobs in the world. Opportunities for graduates with computer science degrees are plentiful with jobs in computing growing at twice the national rate of other types of jobs.
By 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be one million more computer science jobs than graduating students qualified for them. In Michigan alone, the demand for computing jobs is growing at over three times the state average with the average earnings for those employed in digital-media related industries in Michigan nearly $89,000.
Ferndale Schools could not be more excited to add the CS First coding class to Ferndale Middle School. In addition to our internationally ranked robotics team and the new STEM classes from Project Lead the Way, the Google CS First curriculum allows all of our middle school students to have an incredible foundation which will soundly prepare them for the jobs of the future.
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