“We often think of computer science as just using computers, but computer science involves much more than that,” explains Lizabeth Webber, a computer science teacher for PreK through 5th grade students at Okatie Elementary School.
Perhaps an unpopular opinion, Lizabeth didn’t feel iPads served as a sufficient tool in teaching all of the aspects of computer science. She desired a way to improve her students’ problem-solving skills while also providing more hands-on activities with meaningful computer science instruction for her students.
She learned about Lego Education from another computer science teacher who had great success with it. So Lizabeth applied for a grant through the Foundation to purchase Lego Education sets for her project entitled “It’s Never Too Early to Teach Computer Science.” The grant was made possible through the generosity of the Moss Creek Community Charitable Fund.
Her momentum for this project request was based on her observations in teaching computer science. Lizabeth had noticed the majority of her students across all grade levels gave up very quickly and became frustrated at the process of having to try and try again. She observed students becoming very aggravated when they didn't get something right the first time. Since debugging is an intricate part of coding, she wanted to focus on problem-solving skills extensively. She hoped the Lego Education materials would aid her students to begin to problem solve and realize it’s ok to get something wrong the first time.
Using the Foundation grant funds to purchase "My XL World" by Lego Education, she felt the program would be a great introduction for problem-solving skills that must be developed in order to begin dealing with more complex computer science activities, like coding.
Looking to instill the skill of perseverance in her students, she introduced the “My XL World” by Lego Education sets to all of her classes. The set came with 8 problem-solving activities, enough items for a full class, a professional development introduction on how to use it in the classroom, as well as unlimited support. After just a few weeks of working with the Lego sets, she noticed that her students were working together, problem-solving, and collaborating on ideas. With each lesson, the students had less conflict and more success.
The materials provided for an entire semester of hands-on problem-solving activities for her PreK and Kindergarten students.
“Thank you so much for allowing me to bring Computer Science to life for my students,” says Lizabeth. “I don’t know how long it would have taken otherwise.”
Who knew that “toy” building blocks could have such a great impact on the future of our students? With innovative teachers like Mrs. Webber, the generosity of organizations like the Moss Creek Community Charitable Fund and the right tools, these kids are learning the tools to succeed in our advancing technological world.
The Foundation for Educational Excellence exists to serve the public schools of Beaufort County, stepping in to provide grants and funding for innovative teaching projects that fall outside the normal school budget. From a student-designed pickleball court to a butterfly garden, and through grants for items like art supplies and medical practice mannequins, the foundation has funded countless new opportunities for local students.
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