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BCS Expands Computer Science, IT Programs
BCS Expands Computer Science, IT Programs
Posted on 02/03/2020
NDA senior Ezequiel Gonzalez works on a VEX robot.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Buncombe County Schools is building the next generation of computer science and information technology (IT) professionals.

Thanks to a grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), BCS will expand computer science and IT courses, support summer camps and other exciting extracurriculars, and provide job-shadowing and college campus visits.

BCS is a member of the Asheville-Buncombe-Madison Career Pathways consortium, which involves neighborhood schools and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech). The $80,000 shared grant will fund several middle and high school programs like coding, robotics, and technology courses and clubs. Expanded Summer Pathways Camps at A-B Tech will promote the importance of career and college readiness, and a Virtual Job Shadow will bring students inside high-tech companies from around our community and across the nation.

“It’s changed how I think about things ... I guess I’m just more analytical," said Zeke Dadian, NDA Senior.“This first-hand look at local companies and engagement by partners will allow students and educators a glimpse into the world of information technology and see how coding and computer science is relevant in all career pathways,” said BCS Career and Technical Education Director Taylor Baldwin.

The latest grant will allow us to expand the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) computer science curriculum to all high schools starting in the 2020-2021 school year. This hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program empowers students to do what engineers do – solve problems. They collaborate on real-world challenges to create novel solutions. PLTW also involves exciting robotics competitions, advanced manufacturing experiences, and coding classes. Since first receiving a share of the grant in 2017, BCS has implemented the at all middle schools and select high schools.

STUDENTS ‘LEAD THE WAY’

Last month, several Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr. Discovery Academy students spent their Smart Lunch periods building robots and testing them on a Tower Takeover course. In the game, teams gain points by gathering cubes with robots and stacking the cubes in specific places in the playing area. Students have to design and build the robots, program the motors and the remotes, and learn how to control them.

Students work on a project at NDA. “It’s a game, but there’s tremendous programming and robotics involved,” said NDA PLTW teacher Randal Hylemon, who offered constructive feedback to the students as they worked. “That sets them up for success when they move to the next chapter of their lives.”

On Jan. 16, Zeke Dadian, an NDA senior, was working with his teammate on their Tower Takeover robot. Zeke scoured the C++ programming code looking for bugs. When he was a freshman, Zeke didn’t know how to code at all. Coding, and PLTW more broadly, have made him a better student.

It’s changed how I think about things,” he said. “I used to just do things, but now I’m more careful. I’ve learned how to look at problems in basic steps. I write comments next to the code so other people can understand what I did. I do outlines for most projects. I guess I’m just more analytical.”

Zeke and the other PLTW students are sharing their knowledge with sophomores and juniors, hoping to grow the coding culture at their school.

“We’re theorizing and testing, finding out what works and what doesn’t work,” he said. “The more I do it, the more I love it.”

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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