Even with a strict budget, limited teacher expertise in computer science, and the chaos of a pandemic, the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township (MSDPT) launched a comprehensive and engaging K-5 computer science curriculum for every student.

As an instructional specialist at MSDPT during the launch, I now understand how much collaboration, clever resource management, and hard work are required to run a successful K-5 computer science program.

As computer science has been launched into the national spotlight, schools across the country are finding ways to integrate STEM themes into early education. Although we faced challenges at MSDPT, we were able to find solutions that fit our budget and empowered our existing faculty to teach this specialized subject with confidence.

Here are the steps we took to launch our program and the lessons we learned along the way.

1. Start small.

Launching a districtwide K-5 computer science curriculum was not a one-step process. Instead, we started small. First, MSDPT introduced a computer science course during a short summer enrichment program. Each class only had about 30 available spots, but these spots filled up each year in a matter of days. Once we saw how popular computer science was with our students and found out that Indiana had a computer science state mandate coming soon, we started to plan how to launch a more comprehensive K-5 computer science program.

Erin Naylor is an instructional specialist for the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township. She can be reached at EKNaylor@pike.k12.in.us.

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