Harriton High School recently hosted "Program.It" - a day of hands-on coding and STEM-related activities with the aim of expanding inclusivity in and fostering a passion for computer science education. This event was organized by members of Harriton's POWER Scholars initiative, a rigorous academic program that provides a forum for African-American students to voice their ideas, differences and goals, along with celebrating their cultural heritage.
During the event, students were introduced to a variety of programming languages as they engaged in fun and challenging coding activities. Participants explored ComputerCraft, a modification for the popular game Minecraft, which helps users learn essential programming concepts in a gamified digital environment. Students then took part in a drone competition where they programmed a mini-drone to successfully navigate through the twists and turns of an indoor obstacle course.
Throughout the day, students also had opportunities to interact with and receive mentorship from computer science professionals who volunteered their time to participate in the event. Before the end of the program, students were made aware of the full menu of computer science and related courses as well as extracurricular activities available to them as students at Harriton, including Computer Science 1 & 2; Computer Science Seminar; Visual Programming; Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning (Honors); Cyber Security; Computer Aided Drafting & Design (CADD); Computer Science Principles (AP), Robotics Club, Technology Student Association and Science Olympiad.
This was the third in a series of related events dating back to last year as part of ongoing efforts to increase BIPOC participation in computer science courses. Last fall, a group of passionate students and teachers held the first "Program.it" event at FLUX in Norristown followed by their second event, which took place at LMHS earlier this year.