Google Recognizes Two CU-Boulder Programs That Use Creativity To Teach Kids To Code

February 19, 2015 – Two University of Colorado Boulder programs that teach kids to code have received Google RISE Awards to support their efforts to attract girls and underrepresented minorities to computer science.

The two programs are the Scalable Game Design project, which hooks kids on coding by empowering them to build their own video games, and AspireIT, which connects high school and college women with K-12 girls interested in computing.

Scalable Game Design, based in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, received a $100,000 Google RISE Partnership Award to work with Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey to bring the program to more than 3,500 students in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Scalable Game Design — which has already introduced more than 10,000 American students to computer science — also will develop Spanish instructional materials for use by students in the United States.

Computer science skills are increasingly important for a wide range of career opportunities. In Mexico, access to technology and education in computer science is challenging for all students in Mexico, but especially girls.

“This project will send a powerful message to students in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, that they are part of a global learning environment and job market, and that their unique world views are valued,” said Scalable Game Design program manager Yasko Endo.

AspireIT, a program of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) based in CU-Boulder’s Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) Institute, will use its $150,000 award to continue to work toward the goal of engaging 10,000 middle school girls in learning computing concepts by 2018.

In pursuit of their goal, AspireIT program leaders teach younger girls the fundamentals in programming and computational thinking in fun, creative environments. AspireIT has launched 70 programs since 2013 providing an estimated 115,000 hours of computing education to nearly 2,000 girls in 23 states.

“This program not only benefits the young girls by introducing them to technology, but also challenges the program leaders to become role models who reverse the effects of stereotypes,” said AspireIT Program Manager Jennifer Manning.

With the aim of helping students of all backgrounds access computer science education, Google has given RISE Awards to more than 200 organizations since 2010. Thirty-seven organizations received a total of $1.5 million in funding from the 2015 round of awards.

“As a company started by two students with a curiosity for creating technology, we recognize the role Google can play in exposing youth to computer science,” said Roxana Shirkhoda, K-12 Outreach Program Manager for Google. “It is critical for students, particularly girls, underrepresented minorities and students of low economic backgrounds, to recognize they have the power to not only consume technology—but create it. We’re invigorated by the work of the 2015 RISE Award winners and look forward to partnering with them to inspire the next generation of computer scientists around the world.”