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  • Copper Country Coders to Teach Virtual CS Courses to Bahraini Students


    Copper Country Coders

    Global demand for 21st century workers with quality computer science skills is at an all time high. Yet, providing CS education to students around the world presents many unique challenges, and many countries are still working to ensure that students learn basic literacy and numeracy. 

    To help address this knowledge gap, Dr. Leo Ureel, Computer Science, and  Cassy Tefft de Munoz of the Michigan Tech Center for Educational Outreach (CEO), have been awarded a $4,914 U.S. State Department grant titled, “Copper Country Coders Virtual Courses for U.S. Embassy in Bahrain.”

    The award supports the presentation of two virtual courses to 40 Bahraini youth in grades 6-12, through the U.S. Embassy Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain. The outreach continues a partnership spanning several years. Previously, students from Bahrain traveled to attend Summer Youth Programs at Michigan Tech; the emergence of virtual programs prompted by the pandemic has created renewed outreach collaboration between the university and the U.S. Embassy Manama. 

    The two introductory computer science courses, Beginning Web Development and Programming Games in Python, take place virtually between October 2 and October 30, 2021. Michigan Tech undergraduates in the Copper Country Coders student organization are developing and will conduct the classes, using methods to teach coding with emphasis on learning creative, hands-on problem solving skills in an online environment.

    “Our CCCoders undergraduate instructors and assistants will benefit from developing and teaching CS curriculum,” says Ureel. “This requires them to carefully think through the concepts being taught and practice explaining the concepts in simple terms. As the old adage goes, ‘The best way to learn is to teach.’ Meanwhile, the programs offer a natural near-peer mentorship for Bahraini participants, in addition to cultural exchange and dialogue.”

    Dr. Charles Wallace, Computer Science, who co-advises the CCCoders student organization with Ureel, adds, “We moved to an all-virtual learning experience last year due to COVID, and that got us thinking about extending our instruction statewide, beyond the Copper Country region where Michigan Tech is located. But we hadn’t thought about extending halfway around the world! This is an exciting opportunity.”

    It is expected that this project will significantly impact learning outcomes for the Bahraini students who participate. “The middle and high school students will be exposed to essential, in-demand computer science skills, which can help them achieve success in higher education and secure employment in 21st century businesses and industries,” says Ureel.

    After the curriculum is developed and presented, it can be used for future courses, benefiting future students in Houghton, Bahrain, and locations around the world. 

    This unique collaboration between the Center for Educational Outreach (CEO) and Copper Country Coders (CCCoders) supports five paid hourly undergraduate student positions as instructors, assistant instructors, and logistical support. The CEO will serve as a liaison with the U.S. Embassy Manama and provide marketing support.

    Copper Country Coders (CCCoders) is a student outreach organization that provides Michigan Tech students with experiences in computer science education. CCCoders students introduce middle and high school students to the world of computer science and programming through open-ended project ideas that students can learn through exploration. 

    CCCoders sessions and projects are designed and led by Michigan Tech students, with assistance from Computer Science faculty members Dr. Leo Ureel and Dr. Charles Wallace. The group is always looking for new students to help out in the classroom. To learn more, visit their recruitment page. (https://coders.mtu.edu)

    CCCoders is generously supported by the CS4All Initiative through Superior Ideas. All donations fund our program by supporting our leaders, purchasing equipment, and hosting events to showcase what we do.

    The Michigan Tech Department of Computer Science hosts undergraduate degrees in Computer Science, Software Engineering, and Cybersecurity; master’s degrees in Computer Science, Cybersecurity, and Data Science; and PhD programs in Computer Science. Established in 1987, today the growing CS department serves more than 700 undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Linda Ott is the current CS department chair.

    The Center for Educational Outreach at Michigan Tech aims to spark curiosity in K–12 and community college students through its renowned Summer Youth Programs, virtual Youth Programs, Mind Trekkers, and other access programs that invite students to explore STEM —intentionally and purposefully.


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