Equitable Computer Science for All Learning Ecosystems: Developing Underserved Students’ Computational Making Literacies Through Community-Embedded Out of School Time Programming

Project: Research project


At its core, the National Science Foundation’s CSForAll initiative has the goal of creating the infrastructure, pathways and incentives that develop ecosystems for supporting and motivating all youth - regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status - to become computationally literate and pursue computer science-related degrees and careers. The initial focus of the CSForAll initiative has been the development of CS teachers, curriculum, and core courses at the high school level and to ensure all youth, regardless of where they attend school, have access to quality CS learning. In this proposal we seek to make a case for the extension of the CSForAll infrastructure to include the integration of out-of-school time (OST) learning projects into existing CSForAll funded grants by asking two questions: How can we foster a community learning environment that recognizes, supports, and promotes computational literacies as a desirable and accessible form of social capital by mentors, youth, and families? and How do these community level connections impact youth computational making learning opportunities, participation, social networks, knowledge, and understanding? We will examine these questions through a partnership with the Evanston YMCA, to design and operate a community-based computational making OST hub that provides the learning activities and peer community needed to create an inviting and relevant environment for students, caring adults, and educators to reorient their perception towards computer science related careers as desirable and achievable for youth in the community.

We propose to take advantage of a unique opportunity - the launch of a 1:1 middle grades tablet initiative in a racially and socioeconomically diverse community actively engaged in addressing their expanding achievement gap - to implement a community-based computational making OST hub and reimagine how a community-embedded approach to OST designed to support youth and caring adults (parents and mentors) can ignite youths’ computational making participation. Specifically, we seek to create a learning community that uses a computational thinking guided design process to motivate and support students in the systemic creation of interactive objects that necessitate the integration of coding, digital fabrication, and visual design literacies to produce aesthetically powerful and socially conscious solutions to student and community defined design challenges. opportunities, participation, social networks, knowledge, and understanding?

This project will have broader impact on the participation of underrepresented minorities in computational making OST by increasing the quantity and quantity of programming offered in the communities that have been traditionally marginalized. This work, if successful, can serve as a model for integrating in and out-of-school learning to create learning pathways that move fluidly between school, home, and community. The intellectual merit of this project is the potential to exemplify the importance of integrating OST computer science related activities into the CSForAll model to ensure all youth have access to the learning spaces, peers, mentors, and resources needed to engage youth in participating in OST activities that can deepen students’ developing CS and CT literacies and skills.
Effective start/end date9/1/188/31/20


  • National Science Foundation (CNS-1838916)


computer science
social network
social capital
social status
learning environment