For girls across the country, learning to code is as magical as Mary Poppins

When a group of 40 girls descended on a movie theater in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the excitement was palpable—and not just because they were about to see Mary Poppins Returns. In fact, the girls didn’t know they were going to see sneak peek of the new Disney movie. They were simply excited to code.

The students from Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln High School and Kirn Middle School were arriving for a day of computer science education, and received some serious STEM inspiration.

Made With Code's Mary Poppins event

According to our research, girls often don’t connect coding with their own interests, don’t see other girls coding and don’t think they would be good at coding,. Made with Code is focused on bringing role models within the science, technology, engineering, and math industries and creating experiences for girls to try their hand at coding. The program is devoted to changing girls’ perception of computer science, and to ensuring coding—and associated economic opportunity created by computer science education—is available for everyone.

The event also took place at theaters in Boulder, Colorado, San Jose, California, and Douglasville, Georgia, and included a combination of guest speakers and hands-on coding for 180 teen girls. The Mary Poppins-themed coding activity, one created especially for the partnership, is a snowflake designer that allows girls to flex their creative muscle while learning computer science basics. The girls knew about the day’s coding component, but got an extra surprise when they were done: an early viewing of Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns to round out their day. 

Made With Code's Mary Poppins event

Some girls said the event made them reconsider their career goals. “I’d like to create my own cartoon, to be an animator, create a show that shows other girls all of the things they can do and learn about,” Jonnae, a student in Douglasville, said.  

“My favorite part was being able to use my creativity to code the project,” Hannah, a student from Council Bluffs, said at the event. “I didn’t know that coding could be creative, I thought it was boring, but it’s not!”

If you’d like to try the girls’ Mary Poppins coding exercise, which is practically perfect in every wayhead to Made with Code’s website.

This is how we coded: a recap of Europe & Africa Code Weeks

Computer Science (CS) education is critical to preparing students for the new global economy, but unfortunately many young people lack the opportunity to develop these technical skills. As part of our commitment to help one million Europeans find jobs or grow their businesses by 2020 and to train 10 million Africans by 2022, we want to change that. 

That’s why this October, we supported Europe Code Week for the fifth consecutive year, and Africa Code Week for the third consecutive year, funding 76 education organizations in 33 countries. Over the course of the two weeks, we worked with 166,000 students (56% of whom were girls) and 4,600 teachers to help them develop the skills to get involved in computer science.

This year at Europe Code Week, a grassroots movement started by the European Commission, we funded 25 organizations in 21 countries which all together inspired 77,000 students in computer science.

  • ukCheshire East Libraries ran workshops designed to encourage kids to engage with computer science. The results were a real catalyst for staff, who have gained the confidence to now run their own Code Clubs in Alsager and Bollington, with other libraries planning to launch additional Code Clubs soon.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

In Africa, we joined forces with SAP and Africa Code Week to fund 53 organizations and grassroots groups across 11 countries. Over 107,000 students were able to explore computer science through a variety of fun and interactive workshops.

  • 1Tych Zoe Global Network organized coding workshops for 871 students at several schools in Nigeria as part of Africa Code Week 2018.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

We’re glad to have helped these students gain coding experience in Europe and Africa and look forward to inspiring even more students in 2019.

EDU in 90: Back for season four

Any teacher will tell you that time is of the essence when it comes to the classroom. We heard from educators that they wanted a quick, easy way to keep up with the latest product updates and resources, so we created EDU in 90, a video series from Google for Education, to deliver just that.

Last season, we explored updates to Classroom and the new Teacher Center Resource Hub. We also uncovered your favorite strategies for creatively leveraging tools—like creating graphic novels with Google Drawings and using Slides to develop class newsletters.

Today, we’re kicking off season four of EDU in 90, with updates on Google Classroom, Quizzes in Google Forms and computer science. And based on your feedback, we’ll be focusing future episodes on topics like accessibility features, innovative uses for G Suite for Education tools, and favorite classroom apps from your peers. 

Don’t miss an episode—be sure to check out our series playlist and subscribe to the Google for Education YouTube channel

Around the world and back with Google for Education

Editor’s note: This week, we’re joining thousands of educators and students at BETT in London. Visit us at booth C230, where you can demo a range of Chromebooks designed for education, including the brand new Chrome OS tablet. Follow along on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and updates.

It started with an idea in 2006: how might teaching and learning improve if we brought Google’s suite of productivity tools to schools? 13 years later, there are 80 million educators and students around the world using what has become G Suite for Education. 40 million students and educators rely on Google Classroom to stay organized and support creative teaching techniques. 30 million more use Chromebooks to open up a world of possibilities both inside and outside the classroom. We’ve introduced new devices to adapt to the needs of educators, schools and students, and created features that work across our products, like locked mode in Quizzes through Google Forms. As we kick off the week at BETT, let’s take a look at how classrooms have used Google for Education across the globe over the years.

Global growth of Chromebooks

Asia Pacific collaborates and prioritizes CS education on Chromebooks 

In Japan, public schools are using G Suite and Chromebooks to help meet the nationwide goal of teaching computer programming to all children by 2020. In all 139 high schools in Saitama Prefecture, Chromebooks aren’t just helping students learn programming—they’re also fostering better collaboration between students and teachers when combined with G Suite tools.

Down under in Australia and New Zealand, schools are also using Chromebooks in the classroom. All secondary students in Canberra were provided with Chromebooks in 2018. In New Zealand, Chromebooks have been the top choice for schools since 2017. To keep devices secure while saving teachers and IT administrators time and money, the Ministry of Education in New Zealand began providing Chrome Education licenses to all state and state-integrated schools in November 2018.

St. Thomas More School

Making technology more accessible in Latin America

Schools across Latin America are making technology more accessible to more people in the region. Recently, the Secretary of Education of Bahia, Brazil partnered with Google for Education to make computers more accessible to all students and teachers in public schools across the state. Now, dozens of states and municipalities are following in Bahia’s footsteps. Brazil is also home to the first-ever Google reference University, UNIT, where 23,000 students are using G Suite and Chromebooks to build and learn.

Many different states in Mexico are choosing Google for Education’s tools for schools, too. @prende, an office in the Ministry of Education, chose to implement Chromebooks because of the Chrome Education license. The license gives teachers an easier time managing their classroom, thanks to features like the shared identity model (where multiple students can use the same device, while ensuring workspace and data isolation). Opting for a simple solution helped the Ministry make teacher training a priority.

Brian, #inovarparami

Improving engagement in European classrooms

In Europe, Filey Junior School and Leeds City College brought Chromebooks into the classroom as they were trying to improve student retention and engagement. Students at Leeds College, who range from being full-time parents to Olympic divers, balance their studies with outside of school commitments since they’re able to use their Chromebooks no matter where they are. To work on improving their writing skills, Filey Junior students used Google Docs to review one another’s work. They focused on peer editing, giving constructive criticism and experimented with writing styles—while also learning how to communicate in a new format.

Elsewhere in the UK, we’ve been working with London Grid for Learning to help over 90 percent of schools across the city bring technology to more students. The project includes free training in Classroom, G Suite and other tools to upskill teachers.

Chromebook popularity continues to grow in the Nordics—for instance, the city of Vantaa, Finland adopted 13,000 devices in March 2018. The Director of Education cited the user-friendliness as a reason why they implemented Chromebooks. And in Trondheim, Norway, the Trondheim Kommune adopted the new G Suite Enterprise for Education as a result of the additional security features offered, for all 40,000 students and educators.

Chris Lickold, Tring School

Preparing U.S. students for the future with 21st century skills

In North America, we’ve been improving our products and spending time in schools. Down in Texas, Burleson ISD has a vision for every learner to graduate with 21st century problem-solving and reasoning skills. This led them to redesign their learning spaces—they replaced traditional desks with work spaces to encourage the collaborative and self-directed ways students learn today. They also created makerspace areas, where students can learn about 3D printing, engineering and other STEM activities.

In South Carolina, students who recently graduated from Fairfield County School District feel that they have a competitive advantage in college and the workforce from having used G Suite and Chromebooks throughout middle and high school. Even at the college level, schools like Lafayette College are beginning to use the enterprise-grade capabilities within G Suite Enterprise for Education. And with the addition of Dartmouth, all eight Ivy League schools now use G Suite for Education as a productivity tool of choice for their faculty, staff and students.

Fairfield County School District

To teachers, administrators, and students around the world, thank you for continuing to inspire us, learn with us, and grow with us.

Choose your own adventure with 13 Google for Education tools

Editor’s note: This week, we’re joining thousands of educators and students at BETT in London. Visit us at booth C230, where you can demo a range of Chromebooks designed for education, including the brand new Chrome OS tablet. Follow along on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and updates.

Power up a Chromebook and watch as it transports students to the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef or a state-of-the-art science lab. It’s like magic, except the magicians are the teachers who inspire engaged and focused learning. As the leaders of these journeys, teachers give students the opportunity to explore the limits of their imagination—all on a device that’s simple to use and easy to navigate. While we’re here at BETT, we’re exploring more ways to bring magic moments to the classroom. So open up a Chromebook, and try out a few of the things it can do.

Secure and accessible, out of the box

1.Learn with adaptable Chromebooks: We’re launching more devices for education, with 25+ new devices in 2019. Choose from tablets like the Asus Chromebook Tablet CT100, convertibles like the Acer Chromebook Spin 512 with a 3:2 screen ratio for a taller display to see more content, the Lenovo 300e Chromebook, and clamshells like the Dell Chromebook 3400. Chromebooks aren’t just for students—educators are turning to high performance devices like the Google Pixel Slate, Pixelbook and HP Chromebook x360 14.

2. Explore built-in security and accessibility features: When you customize your security settings with multi-layered security, automatic updates, individual profiles and data protection, they’ll follow you no matter what device you log into. Learn more about customizing settings in G Suite and on Chromebooks to support all learners—including those with visual aids, auditory aids and more.

3. Become an Internet Legend: With our online safety program developed in partnership with the experts at Parent Zone, all Key Stage 2 primary school teachers can now order the Be Internet Legends curriculum pack for free. It’s available in new languages, including Arabic, Belgian, Italian, Polish and will soon be available in Turkish.

Chromebook accessibility features

Plan with efficiency, collaborate & explore, check for understanding

4. Plan with Classroom and Course Kit:In addition to the new Classwork page, Classroom has a refreshed look and feel. And if you love G Suite but use a different LMS, you can now use Course Kit, a free toolkit that incorporates G Suite into your existing LMS.

5. Collaborate with Jamboard: Create, edit, and view Jams (a “Jam” is a collaborative whiteboard space) on your Chromebook or from a Chrome browser with Jamboard or the Jamboard app. You can now modify frames, switch quickly from selection to drawing and use familiar keyboard shortcuts when jamming. Soon, you’ll also be able to add images. Head over to Workbench for a new course on student agency and engagement using Jamboard.

6. Explore the world in Augmented and Virtual reality: Now students can create VR tours using Tour Creator on their Chromebooks, and view them together through a guided experience using the Expeditions Android app (coming soon to iOS). We’re also translating our most popular VR and AR tours into Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

7. Sign up for the locked mode and Gradebook betasOn managed Chromebooks, locked mode prevents students from browsing away from the Quiz until they submit their answers. The new Gradebook in Google Classroom lets you check grades, see average grades by student or assignment, and choose to calculate grades by weighted average or total points-based.

Adapting to the needs of learners, educators and schools with Chromebooks

Editor’s note: This week, we’re joining thousands of educators and students at BETT in London. Visit us at booth C230, where you can demo a range of Chromebooks designed for education, including the brand new Chrome OS tablet. Follow along on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and updates.

We aim to build products that help educators, school staff and students thrive in and out of the classroom. Ever-evolving education standards and students’ diverse learning needs means teachers need adaptable devices that can keep up with these changes. For administrators, it’s about the ability to manage large groups of students and educators while protecting their data. For students, intuitive and easy-to-use devices help them learn in a way that’s conducive to their needs. For these reasons and more, our latest lineup of Chromebooks feature a wide range of devices from laptops to tablets, admin management, deployment options, accessibility features, input options, and a growing number of quality apps. Whether you’re a student mastering your times tables or a teacher deploying a 1:1 device program to thousands of users, there’s a Chromebook for everyone.

Adapting to the needs of learners

To adapt to different student learning needs, Chromebook’s tools have built-in accessibility features. Accessibility settings sync across any Chrome OS device, so as students switch between shared devices or log in at home with their G Suite for Education account, their settings automatically update. This means no additional instruction time wasted setting up assistive technology, and inclusion of students who might otherwise require an additional device or aide. With visual aids, stylus support, voice typing, audio support, input capabilities beyond typing and trackpad and an entire world of Chrome extensions and partners, we’re adapting to support the ever-changing needs of learners.

Chromebook accessibility features

Adapting to the needs of educators

Educators shape the minds of the next generation of leaders, thinkers, activists and creators. As the classroom changes, educators turn to digital tools, like Google Classroom, G Suite and Expeditions and third party apps to engage students and teach efficiently and effectively. In the hands of creative teachers, these tools help bring learning to life for millions of students. Plus, we support a wide ecosystem of developers, so there will never be a lack of quality educational apps for Chromebooks. A few partners building apps we love include:

  • Sphero incorporates STEAM and robotics into coding and every day classroom lessons. Look for their latest lesson plans on Workbench.
  • GeoGebra is an AR app on the Acer Chromebook Tab 10, letting students toggle between 2D and 3D shapes, graphs and more.
  • Scratch 3.0 is a popular coding app that has a new touch version (Scratch 3.0) optimized to work seamlessly on Chromebooks.
  • Soundtrap is an app that can nurture student voice through music, podcasts, language, literacy training Plus, teachers can assign lessons through Google Classroom.
  • Kami lets you annotate Docs and PDFs, making note taking using a stylus and the web much smoother.
  • Book Creator helps you create ebooks in a snap. Try the Classroom integration to share published books and showcase student learning.
  • Texthelp’s Read&Write is a literacy toolbar that offers additional support for English as a new language learners and dyslexic students by reading out loud, researching assignments and proofing written work.
Chromebooks and Expeditions bringing learning to life

Adapting to the needs of schools

With the Chrome Education License, administrators can deploy technology at any pace, while having the flexibility to manage their fleet of devices in a number of environments. Schools can start with a 10:1 student to Chromebook ratio, zoom ahead to a 1:1 model, or add different types of devices over time, depending on the needs and budget. As schools add rugged Chromebooks and then tablets, or add more of the same trusted device type, administrators can do so with a single interface that supports all of them.

Chrome OS devices are shareable, meaning multiple students can log into their individual profiles on the same device. Without assigning a particular device to each and every student, transitions become smoother and slow startup time doesn’t eat into instruction time.. Since Chrome devices only take ten seconds to boot up and administrators can schedule system updates on their own timeframe (not during the middle of a lesson or a test), many schools and organizations have chosen to use Chromebooks in their classrooms.

We’d love to hear how you’re using tools to support all learners, so come visit us at BETT or reach out on Twitter.

Using technology to support project-based learning

How can we reduce plastic in our oceans? In today’s classrooms, teachers use project-based learning (or PBL) so that students can come up with potential solutions to real-world problems like this. With PBL, students identify the problem, research a solution and support it with evidence—all while learning valuable skills they’ll use long after graduation. Brainstorming these dynamic solutions can be an exciting and creative challenge for young minds. Technology can help motivate and spark imagination in ways that static textbooks can’t.

Last week at SXSW EDU, we helped educators experience the power of technology-enhanced PBL first-hand, with a demo on how to create differentiated and personalized learning using technology in the classroom. The interactive demo let people get hands-on with educational tools from G Suite for Education, Chromebooks, Jamboard, Google Expeditions AR and VR and engaging third-party applications.

The demo in action at SXSW EDU

Even if you didn’t attend SXSW EDU, you can recreate the lesson on removing plastic from our oceans with your students. Follow this guide to bring the magic of Google tools to your students and facilitate a collaborative, intelligent, connected and creative learning space.

Assignment 1: Setting the stage

First, you’ll need to introduce the challenge of reducing plastic in our oceans and identify key facts about pollution in our oceans.

Step 1: Use Google Classroom to introduce the task.

You can use Google Classroom to create individual copies of materials for each student, in just one click. As an example, click here to make a copy of this lesson plan. If you’re using a different Learning Management System (LMS), Course Kit lets you integrate that LMS with G Suite.

Step 2: Use “Explore” to find and cite a key quote.

Open the Google Doc provided in Step 1 and click the “Explore” button in the bottom-right of the document. The “Explore” functionality makes it easy to add citations to materials you referenced across the web.

Step 3: In the Google Sheet, use “Explore” to analyze waste data for Austin, Texas.

Here, the “Explore” feature leverages the same machine learning technology used by Google Search and Google Assistant.

Step 4: Take this quiz in Google Forms to test your knowledge on the topic.

Google Forms automatically grades your students’ work—saving you from having to do it manually—and give them feedback on how they did.

Bonus: Test out the new “locked mode“, only available on managed Chromebooks.

This new feature (which is currently in beta) prevents students from navigating away from the Quiz until they submit their answers.

Assignment 2: Dissect the problem and dig deeper

Next, students will use research skills to understand the root of the plastic problem and collaborate with experts and peers.  

Step 1: Use Google Earth to explore real data on plastic moving across the oceans.

You can also use have your students use Google MyMaps to compare the size of the Pacific garbage patch to several US states.

Step 2: Use Hangouts Meet to meet experts in the field.

Hangouts Meet is a great tool to connect students with experts and each other though secure video and messaging.

Step 3: Go on a virtual reality tour of the ocean with Google Expeditions.

This tour is just one of more than 150 AR and 900 VR tours you and your students can experience. You can now view and guide tours you’ve created yourself using Tour Creatoron both Android and iOS.

Step 4: Use a Jamboard to work together to discuss what you’ve learned so far.

Now that your students have dug into the problem, they can collaborate on the Jamboard or Jamboard app to answer key questions about the plastic problem and discuss what they have learned while researching.

Bonus: If you have a Vernier©️ sensor, use the Science Journal Android app to run an experiment testing how oxygen levels are affected by plastic in the ocean. Science Journal transforms devices, like you phone, into a pocket-sized tool for conduct fun science experiments—no fancy equipment required.

Google EDU demo at SXSW EDU

Assignment 3: Generate creative solutions

Finally, uplevel the lesson even more by generating creative solutions to the plastic problem based on everything we learned during instruction and research. Here’s a guidethat suggests specific tools to use.

Step 1: Create a VR tour with Tour Creator.

Your students can help increase awareness of the plastic problem by creating their own immersive, 360° tours right from their computers. With this creative challenge, students can sharpen critical thinking and creativity skills, while building something they can add to a digital portfolio.

Step 2: Create a website using Google Sites to outline possible solutions.

Sites gives you an easy-to-use tool to build websites, host course curriculum and encourage students to build their development skills.

Step 3: Use Teachable Machine to create your own trash sorter.

Your students can make it easier to recycle by training their computers to recognize and sort different types of trash using Teachable Machine, an AI experiment that requires no coding.

Step 4: Make an automatic stop-motion animation with Google Photos.

With Google Photos, you can store and edit an unlimited amount of photos to use in your lessons.

Step 5: If you have a Jamboard, you can use it to collaboratively review and workshop creative solutions to removing plastic from the ocean. No physical Jamboard? No problem, check out the free web-based version.

Whether your students prefer to learn through video, reading, collaboration, hands-on experimentation or testing, Google tools allow you provide an engaging educational experience for every type of learner.  

Driving change with Rolling Study Halls

Editor’s note: We’re sharing the stories of bus drivers from Talladega County, Alabama who participate in Rolling Study Halls. This program powers their buses—along with others across the U.S.—with Wi-Fi, devices and onboard educators to help thousands of students reclaim 1.5 million learning hours. As part of our Grow with Google initiative to help provide more Americans with access to the tools and skills they need, we expanded the program across the country in 2018. In the past academic year, participating school districts across the U.S. have seen improvements in student grades, confidence and homework completion. Dr. Suzanne Lacey, Superintendent from Talladega County, is sharing more about the impact this program is having in her community and beyond.

Talladega County is home to more than 7,000 students across 17 schools. The majority of our students spend a sizable part of their day on a bus getting to and from school. In our rural county, many students also face limited access to the internet—and it’s not just an economic issue. In a lot of places where our students live, there simply isn’t access available. For these reasons, Google’s Rolling Study Halls has become an important part of our educational program since we became a participating district last April. Through a creative use of commute time, we’re now able to open doors for these students to opportunities they might not have had otherwise. Our bus drivers aren’t just driving students to school, they’re also helping to drive change that goes beyond their daily routines. 

Rolling Study Halls is a program that powers buses with Wi-Fi, devices, and onboard educators to help thousands of students across the U.S. reclaim 1.5 million learning hours.

Maximizing opportunities for learning

Kim Gaither, who drives a Rolling Study Halls bus for Munford Elementary and High School, has said the program dramatically improves her long bus route, which is now quieter due to better student behavior. While Kim’s focusing on the road, the kids get to focus on getting more out of their time on the bus. By extending the time available for learning day, everyone benefits. Principal Michelle Head says Stemley Road Elementary teachers have seen student confidence grow, which she and her teachers attribute to Rolling Study Halls.

Creating time to connect

Rolling Study Halls also fosters relationships between the onboard educator and their students. Drew Middle School teacher and onboard educator, Stuart Bently, recently shared with me the story of a former 7th grade student who struggled in class and rarely completed her work. On the bus, Stuart can give this student extra attention and have conversations about not just her assignments, but also about what’s going on in her life. He’s proud that this student is now completing assignments, participating in class and couldn’t wait to show him her last report card.

Onboard educator and 2nd grade teacher Jessica Moses provides targeted warm-up activities for students on her bus each morning to get students into the right frame of mind before getting to school. These activities are a rare opportunity to have a positive impact on students’ learning attitudes before they even walk through their classroom door, setting the tone for their day.

Driving change

Our entire community—parents, teachers and bus drivers—are all eager to see how this program will continue to positively impact our students. And we’re inspired to know that what’s working here is also working in other Rolling Study Halls school districts. In Tennessee, the Clarksville-Montgomery County School District has seen improvements in their students’ GPAs at both the middle and high school levels. Teachers have said students are now more comfortable in asking for help with assignments or standards they don’t understand. The same goes for Lexington County School District One in South Carolina, where 57 percent of participating students say that the Wi-Fi connection on the bus is better than at home and 83 percent say the time on the bus is critical to helping them finish their homework.

Back home, as we continue to measure success, we’ll also investigate methods for expansion. Talladega County Schools always looks for opportunities to maximize learning for our students. Together with Google, we’re making a difference for them, and we’re especially thankful for our bus drivers who are behind the wheel, making this whole thing run.

Driving change with Rolling Study Halls

Editor’s note: We’re sharing the stories of bus drivers from Talladega County, Alabama who participate in Rolling Study Halls. This program powers their buses—along with others across the U.S.—with Wi-Fi, devices and onboard educators to help thousands of students reclaim 1.5 million learning hours. As part of our Grow with Google initiative to help provide more Americans with access to the tools and skills they need, we expanded the program across the country in 2018. In the past academic year, participating school districts across the U.S. have seen improvements in student grades, confidence and homework completion. Dr. Suzanne Lacey, Superintendent from Talladega County, is sharing more about the impact this program is having in her community and beyond.

Talladega County is home to more than 7,000 students across 17 schools. The majority of our students spend a sizable part of their day on a bus getting to and from school. In our rural county, many students also face limited access to the internet—and it’s not just an economic issue. In a lot of places where our students live, there simply isn’t access available. For these reasons, Google’s Rolling Study Halls has become an important part of our educational program since we became a participating district last April. Through a creative use of commute time, we’re now able to open doors for these students to opportunities they might not have had otherwise. Our bus drivers aren’t just driving students to school, they’re also helping to drive change that goes beyond their daily routines. 

Rolling Study Halls is a program that powers buses with Wi-Fi, devices, and onboard educators to help thousands of students across the U.S. reclaim 1.5 million learning hours.

Maximizing opportunities for learning

Kim Gaither, who drives a Rolling Study Halls bus for Munford Elementary and High School, has said the program dramatically improves her long bus route, which is now quieter due to better student behavior. While Kim’s focusing on the road, the kids get to focus on getting more out of their time on the bus. By extending the time available for learning day, everyone benefits. Principal Michelle Head says Stemley Road Elementary teachers have seen student confidence grow, which she and her teachers attribute to Rolling Study Halls.

Creating time to connect

Rolling Study Halls also fosters relationships between the onboard educator and their students. Drew Middle School teacher and onboard educator, Stuart Bently, recently shared with me the story of a former 7th grade student who struggled in class and rarely completed her work. On the bus, Stuart can give this student extra attention and have conversations about not just her assignments, but also about what’s going on in her life. He’s proud that this student is now completing assignments, participating in class and couldn’t wait to show him her last report card.

Onboard educator and 2nd grade teacher Jessica Moses provides targeted warm-up activities for students on her bus each morning to get students into the right frame of mind before getting to school. These activities are a rare opportunity to have a positive impact on students’ learning attitudes before they even walk through their classroom door, setting the tone for their day.

Driving change

Our entire community—parents, teachers and bus drivers—are all eager to see how this program will continue to positively impact our students. And we’re inspired to know that what’s working here is also working in other Rolling Study Halls school districts. In Tennessee, the Clarksville-Montgomery County School District has seen improvements in their students’ GPAs at both the middle and high school levels. Teachers have said students are now more comfortable in asking for help with assignments or standards they don’t understand. The same goes for Lexington County School District One in South Carolina, where 57 percent of participating students say that the Wi-Fi connection on the bus is better than at home and 83 percent say the time on the bus is critical to helping them finish their homework.

Back home, as we continue to measure success, we’ll also investigate methods for expansion. Talladega County Schools always looks for opportunities to maximize learning for our students. Together with Google, we’re making a difference for them, and we’re especially thankful for our bus drivers who are behind the wheel, making this whole thing run.

Helping Latino students learn to code

Growing up in Costa Rica, I was always passionate about creating things and solving puzzles. That’s what drove me to computer science. I saw it as an opportunity to explore my interests and open doors to new possibilities. It’s that love and passion that eventually helped me get to Google, and to the United States, where I now live.

Computer science requires students to learn how to think in a totally new way. Getting into that mindset can be really hard for anyone, but it can be even tougher if you’re learning key phrases, concepts, and acronyms in an environment that feels different from your everyday life.

That’s why I’m proud to share that Google.org is making a $5 million grant to UnidosUS, the YWCA and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. The grant will bring computer science (CS) education to over one million Latino students and their families by 2022 with computer science curricula, including CS First, Google’s coding curriculum for elementary and middle school students. Additionally, it will support students’ experience with how they learn about computer science, helping them explore CS and offering culturally relevant resources to engage parents.

This $5 million grant is part of a new $25 million Google.org commitment in 2019 to increase Black and Latino students’ access to computer science (CS) and AI education across the US. This initiative will help these students develop the technical skills and confidence they need for the future, and help prepare them to succeed in the careers they pursue.

Even as a fluent English speaker, I can’t count the number of times people misunderstand me because I pronounce things differently, or the times it takes me a little longer to understand because my day-to-day work language is not my primary language. This language barrier is not the only barrier—students from underrepresented communities, especially those who are Black and Latino, often don’t feel represented or connected to their first introduction to the field.

While Black and Latino students have equal interest in CS education, they often face social barriers to learning CS, such as a lack of role models, and a lack of learning materials that reflect their lived experiences, like those that are in a language they understand. On top of these social barriers, these students often face structural barriers, such as not having equal access to learn CS in or outside of the classroom. 

Along with the grant, CS First is launching its first set of lessons in Spanish. In the first activity, “Animar un nombre,” students choose the name of something or someone they care about and bring the letters to life using code. The second activity, “Un descubrimiento inusual,” encourages students to code a story about when two characters discover a surprising object.

Today’s announcement is an exciting part of Google.org’s work to support students who have historically been underrepresented in computer science. These grants to partner organizations will help Black and Latino students access materials and engage with role models who feel connected to their culture. We will also help create more opportunities for students to access the courses they need to continue their studies.

To me, the new Spanish coding lessons are more than just a fun way to learn coding. They are opportunities for entire communities of students to see themselves reflected in computer science education materials, perhaps for the first time. It’s our hope that students like the ones I met will use CS to create more inventions and opportunities for us all.