DIANE LEVITT: When I was in middle school, I played the viola. I played the viola very badly. And they didn't take the viola away from me, because I wasn't going to Julliard. They wanted me to learn viola because they knew I would leave them and enter a world full of music and that I would understand music differently, because I had made it. That's exactly the reason why we want students to navigate technology with that same fluency and purpose. The city of New York, 1.1 million children in the public schools, the opportunity to help empower schools to lift children out of poverty, to prepare students for full citizenship in the digital age, that is a very, very powerful lure for a person like me.
Cornell Tech is a graduate school. And yet we play an essential role in the tech ecosystem in New York City. The mission of Cornell Tech's K-12 work is to catalyze computer science education in New York City's elementary, middle, and high schools. We have adopted PS/IS 217 on Roosevelt Island. Principal Beckman said, you know, what we really need is a specialist who comes in once a week, somebody who can talk to teachers and help drive better classroom experiences.
MEG RAY: What's unique about the Teacher-in-Residence program is that we're not just parachuting in a curriculum. We're not just training teachers for a week and then letting them go. We're looking at what is sustainable in schools? What will be there in a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now?
It's about equipping that school to incorporate computer science into its culture. We are working with teachers directly. Our biggest emphasis is coaching in the classroom.
DIANE LEVITT: We don't think there's any substitute for the kind of relationship you build between a teacher and a coach.
MEG RAY: Teachers need to learn a lot of new material. And it's been just wonderful to see the commitment of the teachers that I've worked with. Kids are very capable of creating complex projects, programming.
When I'm in classrooms, what really excites me is when I see students who really wanted to give up in the beginning, but have learned that they can problem solve. They can get to the end. They can create something. And they feel empowered by it. It's really exciting to see them doing this rigorous work.
SPEAKER 1: You're sort of learning what the computer is, like, capable of, what it's not capable of.
SPEAKER 2: There are lots of different types of computers.
SPEAKER 3: There's more to technology than I thought.
SPEAKER 1: The computer, it doesn't have a mind of its own. You have to create the mind for it.
SPEAKER 4: What does debugging mean?
SPEAKER 2: Fixing the problem.
SPEAKER 1: Something that I really like is challenges, because they really push my mind.
DIANE LEVITT: As soon as we decided that having someone in a long-term relationship with the school was going to be the factor that made a difference there, we started to see real change. I'm very proud that PS/IS 217 went from zero computer science four years ago to computer science in every classroom every week in the K-5 and several times a year in the middle school. We're certainly the only university in the country putting these kind of resources into the K-12 space in computer science. Our goal here is to figure out, is this something that can be broadly applied throughout the country?
I want students to be able to build something digital that has meaning to them so that every time they interact in the digital world, they have that same sense. I was there. I made this. I know how they did that. That's what I really hope for kids.
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To prepare students for their digital future, Cornell Tech is partnering with New York City public schools to make computer science part of every classroom's culture.
Every day, in every county in New York state, individuals, schools, businesses, entrepreneurs, local governments and communities depend on Cornell to turn discoveries into real-world solutions.