Project Summary: Computación, Creatividad, y Comunidad (Computation, Creativity, and Community): Family Computer Science Nights

Lead: Santa Fe Project GUTS
Contact: John Paul Gonzales, Program Manager
Contact E-mail:
Partners:Dad and two young daughters sitting in front of computer and smiling at camera

Project Dates: September 5-7, 2012
Total Number of Youth and Parents Served: 169 participants, 88 participants (42% parents, 58% students)
Funding: $5,000

Middle school age boy working on gaming program with a laptopProject Summary:
This project was designed primarily to engage students in grades 4-6 and their parents in joint-activities that exposed them to computer science. Three back-to-back Family Computer Science Nights lasting an average of three hours each were hosted. These were modular so on any given evening, new participants could be included without needing prior knowledge. A total of 169 participants were engaged consisting of 88 unique visitors with a 48% to 51% boy-girl ratio and a similar ratio for male and female parent participants. Recruitment was conducted through flyers and classroom visits to the school. Actual student participants came from grades 3 through middle school – a wider range than anticipated caused by families bringing along younger and older siblings to the event. Dinner was provided on each night and all materials and lessons were provided and delivered in both English and Spanish. Families developed games using Scratch and StarLogo TNT software.

The goals of the Family CS Nights were to increase the interest in Computer Science and STEM among the Hispanic community served by Santa Fe Public Schools and to increase the circle of support for Hispanic students interested in pursuing future endeavors in Computer Science.

The objectives of the Family CS Nights were:

  • to inform students and parents of the educational and career opportunities that are possible in Computer Science,
  • to engage students and their parents in hands-on design and build Computer Science activities in which they get to experience being creators and innovators,
  • to link Computer Science and STEM with solving real-world problems including those that face the local community, and
  • to disseminate information about and recruit 4th-6th grade students to join Project GUTS clubs and/or the GUTS y Girls program upon reaching middle school.

Each evening the workshop followed approximately the following schedule.

  • 4:00 – 4:30 pm   Registration / check-in, Welcome and Do Now activity
  • 4:30 – 5:00 pm   Guest presentation and Introduction to the CS activity
  • 5:00 – 6:30 pm  Workshop Activity Session
  • 6:30 – 7:00 pm  Dinner and sharing

Mother and her two children work in front of a computer while a teacher guides themProject Impact:
The Family CS Nights was successful in meeting most of the goals set forth in the project’s proposal. The project met its goal of attracting diverse audiences to the workshops: 93% of participants were from underrepresented groups (African Americans, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American) in STEM and Computing.  Fifty-one percent of participants were female.   It also met its learning goals: participants reported having mastery experiences in creating an animation in Scratch (81%) and a computer model in StarLogo TNG (75%). 

The project, through the presentations of guest speakers and facilitators, met its goal in raising awareness: 100% of respondents reported learning something new about computer science, 97% of respondents reported learning how people use computer science in their work, and 83% reported learning how computer science can be used to investigate / solve local issues.  And finally, participant interest in learning more about computer science after attending the workshops was high: 94% of participants reported interest in learning more about computer science, 94% would like to get better at Scratch, and 89% would like to get better at StarLogo TNG.

Number of participants:Young girl works on computer program with a laptop
Attendance:  Wednesday 56; Thursday 68; Friday 45
Total attendance over 3 nights: 169

Unique participants: 88
Parents and guardians 42%
Students 58%

Staff and volunteers: 12
Student mentors (high school students from GUTS y Girls): 8

Evaluation forms (surveys) received: 36 out of 45 on Friday night (80%)

Survey Results:
Statement Yes No Don't Know Blank
I was able to create a project in Scratch. 81% 11% 8% 0%
I was able to create a computer model in StarLogo TNG. 75% 14% 11% 0%
I learned something new about computer science. 100% 0% 0% 0%
I learned about  how people use computer science in their work. 97% 3% 0% 0%
I learned about how computer science can be used to investigate/solve local issues. 83% 11% 6% 0%
I am interested in learning more about computer science. 94% 0% 0% 6%
I am interested in Project GUTS. 69% 14% 14% 3%
The activities we did were interesting. 97% 0% 0% 3%
The concepts and tools we learned might be useful to my community. 94% 0% 0% 3%
I learned some basic computer programming. 81% 8% 11% 0%
I would like to get better at using Scratch. 94% 3% 3% 0%
I would like to get better at using StarLogo TNG. 89% 6% 3% 3%
I learned about computer science related careers from the guest speakers. 81% 0% 19% 0%

Responses to Open-Ended Questions on Survey:

“What ways could Family Computer Science Night be improved?”

  • “There is no way it can be improved, it was great”
  • “Show my siblings”
  •  “Offer these types of education more often because it is very important for us and for others”
  • “Offer more follow up programs and participate at home”  (3)
  • “The program you offered was great! Maybe during the weekend too would be great! Thank you!”
  • “More projects and be a little slower with the instructions. I had fun, Thank you.”
  • “Maybe Friday, Sat, doing homework too late - but thank you for supper. Too much hot chili. Thank you.”
  •  “Everything was perfect”
  •  “Bring more material which can be followed step by step – on the development of this project e.g., Manuales (guides) - brochures ... etc. to follow step by step processing. Thank you very much.”
  • “Have an English family computer science night and a Spanish one… two classes separate.”
  • “A program for grades 4-6 also a room for Spanish and for English so we won't need to translate. Thank you.”
  • “More ways to build games”
  •  “I thought it was great. Everyone was very helpful :) Thanks for coming.”
  • “It was fun. Food was good :)”
  • “I think that it was a great program”
  • “It was good!”

How did this project benefit from being a collaborative effort?Two families sit in front of computers while children type
Family CS Nights was a collaboration between Santa Fe Institute’s Project GUTS and GUTS y Girls programs, MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten and Scheller Teacher Education programs, Santa Fe Public Schools, and New Mexico universities.

  • Project GUTS provided planning and coordination, activity development, computer equipment for the program (17 Mac laptops), data collection and evaluation, and mentoring / preparing of facilitators for the program.
  • GUTS y Girls provided student mentors, computer equipment for the program (20 Mac laptops), and guest speakers / presenters for the program.
  • MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group provided software support including a Spanish language version of Scratch and associated materials.
  • MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program provided software support including a Spanish language version of StarLogo TNG and associated materials.
  • Santa Fe Public Schools provided assistance with advertising and recruitment of students and their parents, facilities usage at Agua Fria Elementary, outreach to teachers, and coordination support.
  • NM Highlands University and University of New Mexico provided guest speakers and workshop mentor including CS undergraduate and graduate students
Final Budget
Item CSCP Funding Other Funds Source of Other Funds Total Funds
Food (75 meals x 3 nights, plus snacks and drinks) $1,016.68     $1,016.68
Flash Drives (75 2gb Drives + logo) $675.00     $675.00
Staff (interpreters, facilitators) $1,600.00     $1,600.00
Printing Program Materials $625.00     $625.00
Materials Translation $250.00     $250.00
Print & Laminate Scratch Instruction Cards, English & Spanish   $955.47 GUTS y Girls $955.47
A/V Equipment Rental (screen & speakers) $350.00     $350.00
Child Care $150.00     $150.00
Clean Up   $200.00 Project GUTS $200.00
Student Mentors   $240.00 GUTS y Girls $240.00
Raffle Prizes $107.51     $107.51
Speaker Honoraria $150.00     $150.00
TOTAL $4,924.39 $1,395.47   $6,319.86