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Happy New Year! Now What About the Summer?

Now is the time for students (and teachers) to start thinking about their summer. I know the new year just began, but it's never to early to plan.

For the last several years I've have the tremendous opportunity to spend a month in the summer as a Teacher Fellow for the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus. Their mission is to encourage students to continue their interest in STEM fields by working side-by-side with university faculty and researchers. Students live on-campus for four weeks. Think of it as camp that emphasizes technology, engineering, science and math.

Each of the four sites (UCSD, UC Irvine, UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz) offers different clusters/topics of focus. What I love about COSMOS is that it does not limit itself to the disciplines traditionally thought for STEM. At UCSD, one of the eight clusters is about computer science. That's the cluster that I'm involved with.

Computers in Everyday Life introduces students to computer science through three threads: programming, robotics and microcontrollers. Guest speakers are brought in during lecture times to discuss various CS concepts, in all their variations and applications. It truly bring computer science alive for students. One of the things that I think is great is that it is not just programming. It connects to students and their lives and shows them that CS is everywhere, everyday.

I encourage all my students (not just my CS and robotics students) to participate in summer programs like COSMOS. It opens their minds, broadens their experience, builds friendships, shows them the careers and majors that are available, and encourages them that STEM and learning is fun and exciting! I've had students participate that say all that and more.

For teachers, you get to bring back new ideas for your classroom. Even after being a COSMOS Teacher Fellow for four years, I keep finding new things and incorporating them into my classes. It is the best professional development I've participated in. Every year is different – new technologies, new insights, cutting edge research. I think that when you teach CS it is very important to stay on top of what is out there especially when we are trying to encourage them to major in it!

Bottom line it's life changing for both the Teacher Fellow and the students.

Slowly, I'm hearing of more summer programs like COSMOS (http://www.ucop.edu/cosmos/). It is a great and rejuvenating way to spend part of your summer. If you know of some, let us all know! I know applications for COSMOS will be open soon (for students and teachers) and I’m sure more will be too!

Shirley Miranda
CSTA Board Member

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