Stony Point computer science receives $6,000 in grants

kariuki_FIThe Stony Point High School computer science department has received a total of $6,000 in grants from IBM and the National Center for Women and Information Technology to purchase devices and improve the program in an effort to integrate more female students.

Stony Point computer science teacher Deborah Kariuki applied and received a $5,000 grant from IBM to continue appealing to underrepresented demographics by creating more interactive lessons. The grant will fund the addition of tablets and two types of credit card sized computers, Rasberry Pi and Adruino, to make programming come to life through lights, music, and games in the classroom.

“Computer science is becoming relevant and required for most majors in college,” Kariuki said. “These tools are important to make sure that more students get a feel and understanding of what programming is before they go to college.”

Kariuki has been working to include more students in the program this year by appealing to ESL and special education classes through Hour of Code activities. A record number of girls are expected to participate in computer science classes next year, Kariuki said.

Kariuki has also been awarded the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award, which will bring a $1,000 reimbursable grant for Kariuki to attend technology-related professional development to benefit the computer science program. Stony Point will also receive a Sphero robotic ball, which can be programmed to moved, as a result of the award.

The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award is conferred upon educators that have demonstrated a commitment to encouraging young women’s aspirations in computing, according to the organization. Kariuki was nominated for the award by two female students who were selected as runners-up in the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing this year.

“I feel very honored and humbled,” Kariuki said. “Many students think I’m very strict, but they’re coming to appreciate what I am teaching them about computer science. I have kids who feel like I’m letting them know what it takes to be a successful programmer.”