The flashing lights, cute beeps, and ‘fast and furious’ speeds (okay, perhaps not the last part) of the Altino robotic cars belies the life-changing power that Computer Science and Coding education can hold today. Oceanit is continuing the goal we set in 2018 – to train 5,000 teachers about coding via the Altino system – with the hope that Hawaii’s teachers will carry the CS and critical problem solving lessons learned with Altino into their classrooms and to their students.
By aligning continuing education goals with the needs of local schools and tomorrow’s workforce, we have embraced the opportunity to host in-depth Altino based courses in 91 Hawaiian schools – and counting. Altino has reached over 200 teachers in 2019 alone. As of this article’s publishing, the projected student reach of CS stemming from Altino is over 22,000. Click here for our previous update on the Altino programs.
Oceanit recently had the opportunity to reconnect with one Altino program graduate who wanted to share how Altino inspired her. Katrina was a six-year veteran math teacher who had taught at Waialua and Castle High Schools on Oahu when she decided to sign up for Altino training in summer of 2016. This very first exposure to coding actually changed the course of her life.
Katrina is a kama’aina wahine and University of Hawai’i grad who had taught mathematics in Hawaii’s public schools since 2012. During her time as an educator, she was invited to attend Oceanit’s week-long Altino bootcamps for teachers. The kinetic learning, focus on logical problem-solving, and the attention to thought processes behind coding actions struck her in a way that computer science never previously had. Her mathematics background served her very well in grasping the principles of computer science being demonstrated with Altino cars.
“I come to this class, it’s a week long thing, and I realize it’s actually really cool! My whole life, my dad was actually a computer programmer… I go to this class and realize I wasn’t so bad at this too! My dad said I should go back for CS, and since I was already working on applications, so let’s see who takes me… I got a call from someone at UH who wanted to talk about my application and CS background, and my only formal CS experience was the Altino course. An old advisor told me that CS is more practical math, and so we made it work”
When it came time to think about her next personal education and career goals were, her experience during Altino led her to focus on a future in CS. In 2018, Katrina returned to school to earn an M.S. in Computer Science, which she will complete in 2021. Her experience with Altino in Oceanit’s program was a major influence in her decision, and she even mentioned Altino in her application process as part of her coding and computer science inspiration and experience.
“I don’t want to go back into teaching, I don’t have that patience! Software engineering, data science, a combination of the two- I just really like tangible results, that you can see actually doing something- which is why the Altino car got me! And it’s a very secure place to be career wise.”
Katrina has years of first-hand experience in Hawaii’s public educational system and sees both the expansion of coding and that more people are understanding the importance of early adoption of CS principles. The Altino program helped to reveal and mitigate gaps in critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which benefit every student who comes into contact with Altino cars, regardless of future educational and career choices.
“It’s definitely growing- my last year teaching was the first that they had an AP computer science course…. The kids are getting a great opportunity, being able to enter college and the work force one step ahead… Outside of the obvious like CS skills themselves, you have kids working together and learning teamwork, the different communication styles, skills for every part of life.”
Katrina communicated to us just how important Continuing Education in STEM is for Hawai’i teachers and how far-reaching the effects can be for the education community. Oceanit is committed to being part of the lifelong learning that our hard working teachers and educators across Hawaii can undertake.
In the current memorization-heavy environment and with standardized evaluation methodologies ubiquitous in our public schools, teachers often remark on how overlooked critical thinking and problem solving can be. Many non-STEM teachers that take an Altino course immediately realize the value isn’t only in exposure to computer science, but in logical deduction and critical thought. Educators know that this is a cumulative problem for students: a lack in logical problem solving lessons affects future critical thinking abilities.
Katrina’s experience with Altino helped her to realize just how critical these base skills are in every field and skill set, even beyond STEM subjects. Her opinion is that a focus on STEM critical thinking skills, kick-started by Altino curriculum, can help address some issues that a “teaching by the test” method can perpetuate. While current educational methods are geared towards specific, annual goals, a new focus on reasoning and understanding “the why” will help students to achieve higher scores, better comprehension, and lifelong skills in problem solving.
After over 25 workshops, hundreds of teachers, and even dozens of introductory classes in 2019 alone, we aren’t done yet. Oceanit’s Altino cohorts program continues to the end of the 2019 and will reach dozens more teachers in their local complexes. Oceanit is proud to play a part in this important education outreach, and looks forward to seeing current CS students as future community innovators