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In The News

Heritage High awarded American Library Association grant

(12/20/2017) - The Heritage High School library has been awarded a $25,000 Libraries Ready to Code grant by the American Library Association (ALA) to launch Full STEAM Ahead, a program that will teach computational thinking and computer science (CS) techniques to special education students. Sponsored by Google, the Libraries Ready to Code initiative will help promote computer science and computational thinking among youth. The library at Heritage was one of 28 winners from 21 states and the District of Columbia, with awards totaling over $500,000.

With the use of assistive technology, students will learn to code their own music through a multi-tiered program with different levels of difficulty:

  • In tier one, students will be introduced to coding using the OSMO Coding Jam program on an iPad and will learn how different coding blocks can be arranged to create sounds, beats and rhythms.

  • Using MadeWithCode programs, tier two will have students use Blockly programming techniques, including visual blocks that link together to make writing code easier. Music created with this program will have visual and auditory components to promote kinesthetic learning.

  • Tier three will use Earsketch, a web-based program where students can loop together audio clips to create a song using Python or JavaScript coding.

One goal of the program is to increase opportunities for students in special education programs to develop 21st Century skills. Students who successfully complete the program are eligible to earn a Digital Literacy industry certification. Combining their 21st Century skills and industry certifications, students can take their instruction and use it to explore options related to computer sciences when they transition from high school to postsecondary opportunities.

Libraries will work together and provide guidance to one another, along with support from Google and ALA's youth divisions: the American Association of School Librarians, the Association of Library Service to Children and the Young Adult Library Services Association. The grant winners will contribute their results to a national computer science educational toolkit.

"As centers of innovation in every corner of the country, libraries are the place for youth - especially those underrepresented in tech jobs - to get the CS skills they need to succeed in the information age. These new resources will help cultivate problem-solving skills, in addition to coding, that are at the heart of libraries' mission to foster critical thinking," said ALA President Jim Neal.

The Google program manager, Nicky Rigg, focused on Computer Science education, said, "The resources aren't meant to transform librarians into expert programmers but to support them with the knowledge and skills to do what they do best: empower youth to create, problem solve and develop the confidence and skills to succeed in their future careers."

This is the first time ALA has dedicated funding specifically for computer science programs in libraries.

Click to enlarge photo of Heritage Library
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