New program at South Fayette furthers technology interest
A new program in the South Fayette School District has barely “scratched” the surface of technology interest.
There is a waiting list of students eager to participate in the new program.
The program is called “Scratch,” introduced to the school by Aileen Owens, the district's director of technology and innovation, as part of the K-12 computational thinking initiative, which involves introducing students to the concepts of programming.
Two years ago, a middle school girls afterschool STEAM group, coached by teacher Frank Kruth, demonstrated their work to educators at the Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference. They then taught families, who attended a community learning night. It also was used by middle school art teacher Diane Lally with her unit on cartooning involving 120 students in grades five through seven. It is now being used by 62 third- and fourth-graders in afterschool Scratch clubs: Cartooning, video game challenge and music composition.
Scratch is a beginning programming language developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab for creating and sharing interactive stories, animations, games, music and art.
Last month, a group of South Fayette middle school students presented at the grand opening of TransformED, a digital playground for teachers at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. They also traveled to the Mars Area School District to train teachers on how to use the Scratch program.
“Scratch has ignited the imagination of our teachers and students,” Owens said. “They are enamored by their power to be creative and with their ability to create interactive characters, sound, music and more. Since students can download the program at home free of charge, they are extending their learning from school to home. Students send me the videogames they make and we are collecting them to make a library of educational games for our students to play.”
Breanna McCann, a South Fayette eighth-grade student who was one of the presenters at Mars, says the experience has been enlightening.
“I have learned computer programming, coding, problem solving and other skills. This experience has been great because I've learned about careers that I never really thought about. I feel that everyone, no matter if child or adult, deserves the right to learn and to discover new things. I am proud to say we have been able to give people the right to learn and have taught them so much about computer programming.”
Her mother, Kim McCann, agrees.
“This experience has helped expand Breanna's skill set and increased her confidence in presentations,” she said.
The elementary school's afterschool Scratch Club has been a catalyst for making connections to the curriculum. Scratch Club members began showing off their projects to their teachers and now the teachers are introducing Scratch into their classrooms.
In late February, 13 middle school and high school students met with Mitch Resnick, director of MIT's media lab and head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group, the creators of Scratch. They attended his presentation sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Learning Research Development Center and he talked with the students prior to his lecture.
The students also have been invited to teach at a weeklong STEAM summer institute for teachers, now in the planning stages, and might teach a Girl Scout troop in the near future.
“Having students involved on a leadership level allows us to expand our opportunities to more students in ways we could not before,” Owens said.
Charlotte Smith is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media and can be reached at 724-693-9441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Musical in Carnegie explores Civil War era
- Fundraiser aims to help Chartiers Valley’s arts programs
- Heidelberg police dog sidelined with illness
- Blood drive planned in honor of Carlynton student
- Carnegie horseshoe club to host outdoor competition
- Westwood family celebrates birth of first child
- Route 50 work to begin Monday in South Fayette
- Western Pa. school districts address e-cigarettes
- South Fayette class aims to educate youth about hunting