Saturday, April 13th

Join us for the 9th annual MNCodes Educator Summit. This is a free opportunity for educators to learn more about technology and computer science education in Minnesota.

  • Date: Saturday, April 13th, 2024
  • Time: 9 am CT – 12:30 pm CT 
  • Location: Virtual

Summit Keynote

Coding for a Cause: A Design Thinking Curriculum with Scratch

Liz Walsh and Ashley Goetz

Help students recognize their impact on their communities. In this breakout session we will share our new curriculum resource, Coding for a Cause: A Scratch Design Challenge. This comprehensive curriculum is designed to empower educators in introducing Scratch and Design Thinking to elementary students. The curriculum is thoughtfully designed to equip educators from a variety of CS backgrounds with the tools to support students in programming as well as the platform to introduce students to essential topics such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, accessibility, and human centered design.  

During this hands-on session, participants will explore the key elements of the curriculum and begin developing plans for implementing a Scratch Design Challenge into their classrooms. By the end of the session, educators will leave with the confidence and tools to seamlessly integrate a Design Challenge with Scratch into their classrooms.

The State of CSEd in Minnesota

Andrea Wilson Vazquez

Join us for a conversation about the state of K-12 computer science (CS) education in Minnesota. We’ll share updates from the CS Working Group related to the draft strategic plan for advancing CSed in Minnesota. This session will provide participants with an overview of key recommendations and a proposed timeline included in the draft state plan. Participants will learn about the collaborative efforts among educators, students, nonprofit, industry, and community leaders, policymakers, and department of education staff to broaden participation in CS across the state.

Through interactive discussions and resource sharing, attendees will gain insights into the proposed strategies to foster inclusivity, equity, and innovation in CS learning across MN.

By attending this session, you will not only learn about the proposed initiatives but also have the opportunity to provide feedback and insights about possible steps for implementation.

Enhance Your Computer Science Class with Literature

Rachelle Haroldson

Come learn about how to integrate children’s picture books and graphic novels to enhance your existing computer science lessons. Highlight areas of computational thinking using literatures to expose and strengthen understanding of topics around algorithmic thinking, debugging, abstraction, generalization, and decomposition. In addition, learn about books to read with colleagues to discuss equity and access issues in computer science.

Using AI Assistants in Courses Where Students Code

Tom Gibbons

The ability of machine learning (ML) models  like Open AI’s Chat GPT, Google’s Bard, and GitHub Copilot to write and debug code for students presents challenges and opportunities for teachers. Employers are expecting new graduates to be able to use these tools effectively because they increase developer efficiency. But these tools also allow students to quickly get the answer to most coding problems allowing them to shortcut programming exercises.

We will try out these machine learning models on different coding exercises and investigate how to bring these into the classroom. This will include using student reflections as assessments to replace the traditional code submission.

AI + Mobile CSP: Alexa Goes to Space

Justin Cannady

Join us for an exciting and interactive session designed to empower you with the knowledge and tools to explore artificial intelligence in your classrooms. This innovative unit, developed in partnership with Amazon Future Engineer, enables students to explore AI concepts while creating Amazon Alexa skills using MIT App Inventor. During this hands-on workshop, you will collaboratively explore AI concepts, brainstorm potential uses of AI in space travel, access the Alexa in Space lesson plans and student materials, and discuss biases in AI technology. You will be guided through engaging activities, including a design thinking exercise, scavenger hunt, and collective brainstorming tasks. By the end of the session, you will have created your own Alexa skill and will have the opportunity to discuss and reflect with other educators on your experiences.

Expansive Avenues: Welcoming Students and Families Through Joyful, Authentic Introductions to CT

Dana Karls, Mahmoud Aliamer, Emily Poster and Kelley Meister

Over the last five years, the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Cargill Foundation, Minneapolis Public Schools, and Hopkins Public Schools have partnered to build our community’s capacity for STEM education, teaching CT in highly relevant and engaging ways. 

In this presentation, we will share our experiences designing both an assembly and family event that introduce CT to third-to-fifth graders and their caregivers. Participants will have the opportunity to view demonstrations from the programs and engage in discussion around bringing authenticity and joy to more aspects of CS/CT education.

Integrating Computer Science in Elementary School: A Partnership Model

Katie Dwyer and Liz Walsh

Join us for a session featuring the dynamic partnership between Code Savvy and Zanewood, an elementary STEAM school in Brooklyn Park, MN. 

In this session, we will showcase our latest collaboration, focusing on developing curriculum resources that extend existing science programs to closely align with the new Minnesota CS Integrated Standards.

We’ll highlight the collaborative process we engaged in to begin the development of a CS pathway at Zanewood. Focusing on our professional development progression and the rationale behind the transition into developing integrated curriculum for educators.

Models and Advice for Creating CS Pathways

Jen Rosato and Christa Treichel

Based on interviews with Minnesota schools (public, private, rural, suburban and urban), presenters will share common features of existing CS pathways such as the content and curriculum implemented at the elementary, middle and high school levels and the corresponding amount of CS learning that students experience.  Also, the composition of the schools teams supporting the pathways will be explained and examples will be offered about how teams built buy-in in their schools and communities.  Participants will hear more about how these teams collaborated to build their pathways as well as what is needed to maintain or expand the pathway over time.  Finally, challenges experienced by these teams will be shared in addition to their best advice for schools wanting to build a CS pathway.

Fostering Computational Thinking in the 6-12 Classroom

Sandra Tischer

In this session, we will look into different ways to integrate Computational Thinking tasks into the secondary math classroom. Integrating CS into Math is part of the new (2022) MN Math Standards. The presenter aims for attendees to leave with ideas and resources to foster Computational Thinking, an important computer science skill, in their classrooms starting immediately – looking at textbooks and beyond.

Coaching for Equity in CS Panel Discussion

Brad Haugen

Participants will hear from some coach/coachee pairs involved in the NSF-funded Coaching for Equity in CS project. This project is a Research-Practice Partnership (RPP) established in collaboration with the Northern Lights Collaborative for Computing Education and Code Savvy.

Policy and Implementation: CS Education Landscape

Hannah Weissman

This session will be a discussion about the current policy landscape in Minnesota, with a particular focus on legislative efforts. Participants will also be to dig into the data collected by and ECEP on CS offerings in MN schools.

State and District Computer Science Education Data & Tools

Jen Rosato and Andrea Wilson Vazquez

State computer science leaders from the Minnesota Department of Education and CSforAll-MN will share data about the landscape of CS education in Minnesota. Participants will learn what is included within the data, how to access the data, how to submit if their data is missing, use data to review their CS education efforts, and to align their CS courses to the Minnesota Common Course Catalogue.

Building Simulations with Gen AI

Dan McCreary

ChatGPT can now build classroom simulations (Micro Sims) using modern graphics and animation libraries.  The instructors just need to type in a prompt and the simulation is quickly generated and runs in a web browser.  There is a growing library of these simulations that can also be quickly customized by non-programmers and integrated into classroom use.

In this session we will walk teachers through the steps of creating a MicroSim and integrating it into the classroom.  We will demonstrate examples of Micro Sims from a variety of subjects including math, physics, geometry, economics, health, robotics and electronics.  We will also demonstrate how lesson plans can be created around Micro Sims.  Finally, we will discuss how the exponential growth of Micro Sims will impact education over the next five years.

micro:bit + Sugar Bush: Data Collection, Analysis and Ojibwe Learning

Paul Schonfield and Andy Olson

Join us to learn about teaching data collection and analysis using traditional Ojibwe methods of making maple sugar (ziinzibaakwad). Discover the significance of sugar bush (iskigamizigan), a cluster of sugar maple trees, in maple syrup production for Anishinaabe people and others in Minnesota and beyond.  You’ll also learn how we incorporate computer science concepts and the learning of Ojibwe language and culture in this lesson in a 4th-grade setting. In this unit, students use micro:bit computers with built-in temperature sensors to monitor outdoor temperatures, calculate temperature conversions, and organize and analyze data about maple sap flow rates. In addition, students use the Microsoft Makecode coding environment to write a simple program that converts temperature or sends temperature data wirelessly between devices to store and analyze. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore interdisciplinary learning in a meaningful cultural context!

What Can We Build Together, and How?: Reimagining Professional Learning

Mahmoud Aliamer and Emily Poster

Over the last six years the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) has worked closely with Minneapolis Public Schools, Hopkins Public Schools, and the Cargill Foundation to develop and implement a multi-tiered approach to STEM capacity-building. This approach hinges on strong relationship-building to plan for programmatic sustainability and deliver extensive teacher professional development, week-long in-classroom residencies, and community learning events.

This has been an iterative process of reimagining and re-visioning our understanding of Computational Thinking (CT) to design the most authentic learning experiences for Minnesota’s teachers and young people.

In this discussion, SMM staff will share our initial approaches to teacher professional learning as well as how and why we are currently reimagining how it looks, feels, and operates. We hope to also learn about the work of other groups and learn what works best for today’s teachers. To ask: what can we build, and how should we build it together?

A Open Discussion on the Use of AI in Computer Science Education

Andrew Chen

During this session, participants will engage in open discussions about the benefits and potential harms of utilizing AI tools with students in CS classrooms.

The goal of this session is to foster a deeper understanding of how AI can be leveraged effectively in the computer science classroom while mitigating potential risks and promoting responsible AI usage in students.

Computer Science, a Virtual Reality Experience

Rick Ballew

A demonstration of a Computer Science unit of study that is a Virtual Reality OER (Open Educational Resource) created by staff and students from St. Cloud State University and Minnesota State University, Mankato. Learners are asked multiple choice questions about computer components, they then have to walk and climb around their desk in their virtual bedroom to find and carry the components back to the computer tower to assemble their PC. Attendees of the session will have the opportunity to view a walkthrough of the experience first hand. As this has been created to be an OER, it is free to use and all input from the attendees are welcome!

The Journey to Emerging Technology Integration in the Classroom

Sean Masterman

Let’s explore the disjuncture between the capacity of emerging technologies (ETs) to address the compelling need for a pedagogical change driven by the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and the actual use of these technologies in the classroom. Emerging technologies enable personalization to meet each student’s individualized learning needs. Educator preparedness is the first step to successfully embracing ETs in the classroom to help build the future workforce. This phenomenological case study assessed the preparedness of middle school general educators in two Minnesota school districts to leverage assistive technologies (ATs) in their classrooms to improve student learning from the special educators’ perspective. Several themes arose from the data, including: Technology integrations tended to be low-to-medium tech with openness to integrate AI- enabled technology. District technology integration specialists are needed to support educator integration. Educator preparation for technology integration needs to begin in the pre-service coursework.

Closing the Gender Gap with Girls Who Code

Kibret Yebtit

Learn about Girls Who Code’s free Clubs program for 3rd-12th grade coders. We’ll introduce you to our three essential components for quality programming: (1) activities that teach coding and social-emotional development, (2) a culture of bravery where participants join a supportive community of peers and role models in tech, and (3) real-world application of coding for positive impact. Leave with step-by-step guidance for bringing new STEM initiatives to young people in your community!

The Crossroads of Debugging Learning Opportunities

David Deliema

Impasses during computer programming present a wide range of opportunities for growth. For example, students might want to fix their current code, avoid a recurring bug, grow their debugging skill set to prepare for novel bugs, or practice gauging whether their coding skills will allow them to fix their code. Which of these learning processes should we pursue with students at any given moment of debugging? In this session, we will watch naturalistic video data of middle school students and their teachers exploring, defending, and debating different learning goals during debugging. We will then reflect together on what these debugging crossroads might mean for how to approach the heterogeneous ways that debugging can catalyze learning.

Little STEMinists

Sarah Finstad

Join us to discover and be inspired by Gen Alpha Little STEMinists! Watch 4-5 year-old female world-changers as they share their imaginative, creative, and curious journey. Through cooperative play with First Lego League Explore curriculum during the 2023-2024 First in Show season, they prove how it is never too early to build community and spread awareness. This simple model is easily replicable in community education after-school programs, MakerSpaces, STEM classrooms, and summer camps for grades PreK-12. Benefits include oral language development, social emotional growth, and interdisciplinary learning. Educators, parents, and leaders of all areas and levels of experience will gain insights into gender affinity groups and leave with confidence to implement immediately. Don’t miss this opportunity to witness the impact of early STEM engagement and empowerment!

Generative AI – The Power of Infinite Creation

Rodolfo Pinto

The advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) plays a vital role in today’s society. Understanding its fundamentals is crucial to prepare children and young people for the future. ChatGPT, an advanced language model, stands out as a powerful tool in interactive learning. In this context, students explore topics, formulate questions, and receive answers generated by the model, exercising curiosity and critical thinking. The communication addresses the creative capabilities of ChatGPT but also emphasizes ethical considerations and the need to verify information. The importance of distinguishing between reliable sources and model-generated content is highlighted, promoting responsible AI use. The goal is to broaden horizons, discover new perspectives, and realize the potential of AI for students’ creativity and learning. Additionally, it empowers teachers to integrate this tool into the classroom, enhancing the educational experience.

We are looking for sponsors to help bring this free opportunity to life for educators across Minnesota. If you are interested in sponsoring our event, please reach out to