In collaboration with the Hawaii Department of Education, students in the CISC Hawaii Winter 2023 program had the opportunity to plan and facilitate sessions on programming and computing concepts in elementary schools in Honolulu.

This winter, as part of the CISC 367: Learning Game Development course and an independent study course, computer science students had the opportunity to plan and facilitate sessions on learning programming and computing concepts in elementary schools in Honolulu.

This program was modeled after the Winter 2017 and 2019 CISC New Zealand programs created by Instructor Katie Wassil and Lori Pollock, Alumni Distinguished Professor, that was focused on computer science education. This year, Pollock and Wassil worked closely with Hawaii Department of Education computer science education experts and teachers to develop the curriculum.

Each student registered for both CISC367  and CISC355 (Computers, Ethics and Society, a required computer science major course), or one of these courses and an independent study. Students in CISC367 worked in teams to code computer science learning games culturally relevant to Hawaii while the independent study students prepared and facilitated computing lessons for seven teachers in Hawaii for Kindergarten, first grade, third grade, an after-school club, and a high school computer science program.

Each student in the independent study facilitated sessions at President Thomas Jefferson Elementary once a week on Wednesday afternoons, participated in after-school activities with the club at Queen Ka‘ahumanu School, and created three lessons on flowcharting for the teacher at the Molokai High School on the other island. The students were also required to write reflective journals on their field experiences.

In addition to the academic experience, students had opportunities to participate in excursions to learn about the culture and history of Hawaii, including trips to Volcano National Park, Kau Coffee Mill, Punalu-u Black Sand Beach, Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, The Bishop Museum, Pearl Harbor, Manoa Falls, Hanauma Bay, and a luau at The Nutridge.

Out of the 31 students taking the course, 13 identified as women (42%), a higher percentage of women in CS than UD’s on-campus classes (approximately 10%), and were mostly computer science majors.

“Offering such a program every other year to computer science majors and minors provides the opportunity for students to get to know other students in their major really well, grow in their personal development as an independent person with stronger communication skills and life experiences, and a taste of traveling to a new culture,” Pollock said.

Study abroad programs are available for Fall and Spring semesters as well as Winter sessions. To see upcoming opportunities for Fall 2023 and Winter 2024 visit the Center for Global Studies and Programs.