A group of students at Stanford realized we could build excitement around building tech for good starting in high school. We began with experimenting with different ideas of how to get students excited about tech for good. We eventually decided to design our curriculum to target students during the time period after their AP CS exam.
We piloted in 2017 with 40 students in one classroom, building materials in response to student reactions. Over the next year, we talked to many teachers to see what they wanted and worked with six awesome teachers and 200 inspiring students.
Our goal for this year is to perfect our curriculum based on feedback from last year and deliver an impactful experience to over 50 schools nationwide!
Our coding projects are tailored for those who are currently enrolled in AP CS. We currently have four coding projects aimed at social good. Look here for a list of sample teaching timelines.
Students use object-oriented programming techniques to design and build a chat-based application that helps individuals suffering from mental health issues locate support groups.
Students develop a program that uses Twitter data to measure public sentiment about bullying, immigration, refugees, and more
Students build a program that analyzes and classifies real medical patient data using basic machine learning techniques.
Students build a model hospital database that keeps track of patient information and algorithmically diagnoses patients based on their symptoms.
Our design thinking crash course is designed for both beginners and pros! Through our crash course you will learn to create projects aimed to solve pressing social needs. We also have a more in depth design thinking curriculum that can be completed in addition to the crash course!
In the initial step of the design-thinking process, students enter a community without any preconceptions and interview members in an attempt to deeply understand the community.
Students use what they learned when interviewing community members to define a specific problem that their interviewee faced. The idea is to narrow down choices to one - a step which sounds deceptively simple.
Next students identify a multitude of possible solutions to the problem defined. Students are encouraged to come up with as many ideas as possible - no matter how feasible or silly they may be.
Finally, students can create a rough prototype (often sketched out) based on a chosen idea. This prototype should be displayed to interviewed communities so that feedback can be gathered and the prototype can be improved.
"The program was amazing. It was an interesting project, had real meaning, and showed students that they knew more than they thought they did that could affect the real world."
"[The program] taught me that the skills I have learned in my computer science class have the potential to cause positive impacts on the world. With just a bit of creativity, any issue can be solved. It was very eye-opening to see how technology and the concepts I have learned in the computer science class apply to the real world."
“I have always thought computer science to be only about coding. But there is that technology aspect of it that I have realized through this project and that technology can be used to improve other's lives.”
“I now look at computer science with a greater sense of altruism.”
A lot of our goals are similar, but our ways of achieving them are different. AP with WE service is a relatively high-commitment program that uses up class time throughout the year - something that can be very hard when preparing students for the AP exam. Our program focuses more on leveraging the time after the AP exam that many schools have (2-4 weeks) where teachers have the most flexibility. In addition, our program involves coding projects that interact with real data - setting up something that resembles the real world for coding projects and not just classroom examples. Finally, the program isn't restricted to just APCS - it's usable in any CS classroom!
Unfortunately, due to time constraints, in most cases it'll be hard for us to guarantee any direct instructional help. We're going to try and create an intro video and maybe a video lesson for classes, to give some interaction with us. Coming in person will be based on the arrangements of each individual school (location, class times, etc).
No worries at all! Most teachers won't have familiarity with any of the material in advance - the teacher we piloted with last year didn't either! We'll personally guide you through how to teach the concepts and have developed concrete lesson plans that you and your students can follow. Teaching design thinking can be incredibly fun, and students tend to get very excited, so don't worry!
Some general guidelines for the projects: for the design thinking project, we recommend grading holistically and not making this a stressfully graded project. Typically, students get excited and go above and beyond, and if you'd like, you can use the 50-point scoring criteria we provide. For the coding projects, you can use the methods you typically do. The breast cancer classification project has unit tests that you can use for evaluation, but given that it's hard, you shouldn't grade solely on functionality. For the more qualitative coding projects with no single answer, a reasonable grading approach would be to evaluate whether students made a serious attempt, and if they did (and produce something functional), give full credit.
We try our best to explain each part of the curriculum in our teaching guides and slides for each topic. If anything isn’t clear after reading the information there, reach out to us directly for questions!
No worries! Our program is highly modular and broken into chunks - a two week (assuming 45 minute classes) design thinking curriculum and two one week coding projects. You can choose any two week combination of these three items that suits your class best. Check out the sample timeline document for more info!
Block schedules aren't a problem at all! We can coordinate specific details over a phone call, but it'll typically just involve grouping two days of our curriculum into one, which is great for basically any pair of days we have, since most sub-lessons (within each project) are 2-4 days long.
Fill out a contact form and we will get back to you shortly. Thank you for your interest!