Lead a Scratch Club (UW-Madison students)

INTERESTED IN LEADING A CLUB?

*Scratch Clubs are on hiatus during spring semester 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.*

Are you a UW-Madison student who would like to teach kids in Madison about Computer Science?

If so, you may be interested in a service-learning course taught by the CS department: CS 402 — Introducing Computer Science to K-12 Students.

In this 2-credit course, you’ll work in a small team with other UW students to lead a weekly CS club for 4th-5th graders at a nearby Elementary school, Community Center, or the Madison Children’s Museum.

“I have thought to myself so many times that I wish I would’ve started learning about coding and computer science way sooner than my freshman year of college. CS 402 is an amazing course that brings computer science to so many young kids and I know it is reaching kids just like me that could have a future in computer science, but they get to discover that and grow their knowledge of computer science much earlier which is truly amazing.”

The clubs focus on teaching kids basic CS concepts and how to create projects (e.g., animated stories and games) in Scratch. For those of you who haven’t heard of Scratch, it is a highly visual programming environment specifically designed for novice programmers. Scratch will be easy for you to learn quickly — it has the control structures, variables, and lists you’re all familiar with. We’ve been using it as the programming language in CS 202: Introduction to Computation. If you’re curious, you should check it out at http://scratch.mit.edu — it is free to download and has lots of examples.

Signing up for this course is a commitment; to run great clubs, we need to precisely match UW students with different sites and we need to ensure we have the right number of UW students (usually 3) at each club. If you drop the course shortly before the semester starts (or even worse, after the semester begins), you may disrupt the success of one of the clubs. You should NOT sign up for this course as a placeholder in your schedule if you think you might not stay enrolled.

You will then be responsible for co-leading (with 2 other UW students) the weekly club at a local site (e.g., Shorewood, Lowell, Thoreau, Van Hise, Crestwood, Muir, Stephens, Leopold, Marquette, Goodman Community, or the Children’s Museum). You’ll need to have free time in your schedule on one afternoon each week (e.g., 3:00 – 4:30). The day of the week you are available will determine which site you volunteer at.

We think you’ll find this to be a rewarding and unique experience at UW. Our clubs have been incredibly successful for the past few years and many kids, parents, and teachers are interested in learning more. We are currently teaching approximately 200 kids about CS each semester!

When you enroll in CS 402, you will pick a particular (lab) section that corresponds to a particular club day and time. For example, each section has two meetings scheduled: a common lecture and an off-site meeting that corresponds to your club day and time.

Make sure you choose the appropriate section for the day and time when you can co-lead a weekly CS club (section times start 30 minutes before club times since you need to travel to the clubs — usually either by bus or a taxi service provided through the Morgridge Center). Club times and locations are determined each semester.

To sign up for this course, you should be fairly comfortable speaking loudly and clearly in front of a group of about 16 kids.

To successfully lead so many CS clubs around Madison, it is very important that we have the right number of CS 402 students signed up for each section. If your schedule changes and you are no longer able to lead a club, please DROP this course promptly so another UW student can lead that club.

UW Student Testimonials

“The class has made me discover a love for teaching that I thought I never had.”

“CS 402 was one of the most rewarding classes I have taken at this University. One of my biggest regrets of Middle School/High School was not pursuing CS during my younger years. The biggest reason for this is that it was entirely absent from all curriculum, and there were no school sponsored clubs or activities. “

“One of the most undeniably important and often overlooked aspects of Computer Science education is introducing students to computing at a young age. As someone who didn’t discover Computer Science until my first semester at UW-Madison, I can only hope that those younger than me are exposed to the field sooner. CS 402 was a unique outlet to share my knowledge and experiences with elementary school students, working directly to expose them to computing in a positive way. ”

“The program is an extremely good program for both the college students teach and the younger students learning. There is no real introduction to computer science or even how computers really work at all in most elementary and middle school programs, despite how connected everyone is. Giving the kids an opportunity to learn more about how computers work gives them a chance to develop these skills ahead of their peers and get them into a topic they may never have known existed before.”

“`The after-school programming club was one of my favorite classes I have taken at UW Madison. It was so fun making games, and seeing kids getting excited about what you have made. Then, they would make a game even better than the one then you made! The kids were all very talented, and picked up the information very quickly. It is amazing with a little teaching can do. Once the kids understood the basic concepts, they were able to make amazing games, and they had so much fun doing it, too. It was really fun making lesson plans for the kids, and getting them engaged and excited about programming.”

“I have thought to myself so many times that I wish I would’ve started learning about coding and computer science way sooner than my freshman year of college. CS 402 is an amazing course that brings computer science to so many young kids and I know it is reaching kids just like me that could have a future in computer science, but they get to discover that and grow their knowledge of computer science much earlier which is truly amazing.”

“Having volunteered with several clubs, it was incredibly rewarding to see how the elementary schoolers learned to enjoy computer science, at the same time as I and the other 402 students/volunteers solidified our abilities to explain CS concepts. “

“Exposure to programming and related concepts early on in life would be very helpful to the next generation in becoming better computer scientists, and/or in improving their computer literacy. Hence the after-school Scratch clubs in CS 402 are a great idea in this regard. Over the previous months I have seen the kids develop an interest for Scratch and have been impressed with their enthusiasm to learn. It also gives the UW students a chance to give back to the local communities in Madison and thus promotes the Wisconsin idea.”

“I didn’t think I liked children! But leading a Scratch club has been a highlight of my time as a graduate student. CS 402 created an opportunity for me to grow as a leader and offered a glimmer of positivity in a difficult year. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and have resolved to seek out similar opportunities beyond my academic career.”

“The fact that I am able to take a course that allows me to share my passion for computer science with kids 4th-5th grade and introduce them at that age to the field is an experience unlike any other. Its a very unique class that all my friends in other majors wish they had for their major! Very very well done/organized class and thank you for creating this class for us.”

“It is an extremely good opportunity to teach young kids Scratch. I loved going and teaching enthusiastic little kids and loved every minute of teaching. It is an amazing experience for students to give back to the community and teach kids Scratch.”

“Volunteering with CS 402 was an exceptional experience both for me and, I believe, for the elementary school students involved. I believe it’s programs like 402 that will solve our diversity problem in CS. Volunteering with 402 increased my empathy for diverse students. I was shocked at what they were able to accomplish mostly on their own. The experience expanded my view on what accomplishments are possible for young students, with tools like scratch, and by *anyone* with motivation.”