December 6, 2023 11:15 am

Innovating Computer Science to Close the Gender Gap

Imagine Robotify’s new advanced Python course furthers the program’s commitment to equity, engaging students in ways that close computer science’s gender gap.

Computer science education is on the rise, with several states adopting it as a high school graduation requirement so far. But even as it gains momentum nationwide, female students still lag behind their male peers in enrollment and persistence. This troubling gender gap emerges as early as elementary school, with girls reporting less confidence and interest in computer science compared to boys.

If current trends continue, the tech workforce will remain predominantly male.

teacher observing students working together

To build a more equitable future, we need creative solutions that empower all students to see themselves as capable computer scientists. A compelling computer science curriculum, designed intentionally to engage girls as much as boys, can help close persistent gender gaps.

That’s why Imagine Learning has added an exciting new advanced Python course to our supplemental computer science program, Imagine Robotify, expanding our library of scaffolded coding content for grades 3–8.

In the new course, students will learn to code an interactive robot named Flex. Their Python programs will help Flex support park rangers as they prepare for a prescribed burn in a nearby forest. Students use geometry, sensors, algorithms, and other key computer science concepts to locate animals, clear debris, and contain the burn area. Along the way, they’ll reinforce related math skills like the Pythagorean theorem.

With its interdisciplinary storyline and coding challenges, this course highlights how computer science enables creative problem-solving across subjects, and students get to pilot a relatable robot character, making computer science engaging, collaborative, and accessible.

The course reinforces the “4Cs” of 21st-century learning: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Students develop perseverance and computational thinking as they refine their code. The real-world narrative promotes curiosity in science and sustainability, and by working to protect the forest and its inhabitants, students see how computing can positively impact communities and the planet.

teacher observing students working together

An equitable computer science curriculum can inspire all students, especially girls, through innovation. That’s why, in addition to new courses like this one, Imagine Learning has completely redesigned the educator experience in Imagine Robotify: the instructional model provides more differentiated instruction, added supports for new computer science teachers, and built-in opportunities for unplugged activities to complement the coding experience.

Computer science education is gaining momentum, but persistent gaps remain when it comes to engaging female students. Compelling, cross-disciplinary computer science courses can help close these gaps, and high-quality curriculum and instruction will be key to driving broad, equitable engagement.

We’re excited to keep enhancing Imagine Robotify’s courses and teacher supports to promote equity and access, and we can’t wait for students to begin coding alongside Flex, developing computational thinking skills to take on real-world problems. As computer science education continues to expand, our commitment to quality curriculum and instruction for all learners only grows.

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