CS First is a free Google program that aims at increasing student access and exposure to computer science education. The program is aimed towards teachers and volunteers who want to run in-school, after-school, or summer programs to teach computer coding to students grades 4-8 (ages 9-14). The greatest part of this program is that all of the training and materials are provided, which means there is absolutely no experience needed to run one of these programs. Simply request a kit from Google and they will mail one out to you. One of the best features of CS First is that the lessons can be customized to be an hour long, or weeks long.
CS First offers several different themes based on the students’ interests. The themes include:
In Storytelling, students use computer science to tell fun and interactive stories. Storytelling emphasizes creativity by encouraging club members to tell a unique story each day.
In Friends, students are encouraged to sign up with a friend or make a new friend in the club. Friends emphasizes teamwork by allowing club members to tell the story of how their friendship started and imagine a company together.
Fashion & Design
In Fashion & Design, students learn how computer science and technology are used in the fashion industry while building fashion-themed programs, like a fashion walk, a stylist tool, and a pattern maker.
In Art, students create animations, interactive artwork, photograph filters, and other exciting, artistic projects.
In Social Media, students create fun social media style applications and games while learning about the computer science concepts that enable these programs to work.
In Sports, students use computer science to simulate extreme sports, make their own fitness gadget commercial, and create commentary for a big sporting event.
Music & Sound
In Music & Sound, students use the computer to play musical notes, create a music video, and build an interactive music display while learning how programming is used to create music.
In Game Design, students learn basic video game coding concepts by making different types of games, including racing, platform, launching, and more!
Animation BETA Advanced
Students create fun and complex animated projects. This is an advanced curriculum, which means it teaches new concepts that are recommended for students who have already participated in at least two other CS First themes.
I personally used the Game Design kit with a select group of 7th graders at the very end of last year, and will certainly try other ones with larger groups of students next year. It was truly as easy as advertised, and between all of the different offerings, it would be very easy to offer sessions to kids all year based on their interests.
Here’s a short video explaining the program:
To start your own CS First club visit: https://www.cs-first.com/en/start-club