The Launch-IT project launches at-risk middle and high school students in the Lehigh Valley (PA) towards college and careers in IT, by engaging them with experiential projects ranging from programming robots in a Martian landscape to creating a
Lehigh University proposes that the "Launch-IT" program (formerly named "S.T.A.R.T.--Students That Are Ready for Technology") will promote academic achievement in information technology (IT) for at-risk middle and high school students in the Greater Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. "Launch-IT" will include summer and academic year programs on information technology for seventh through twelfth grade students. "Launch-IT" will build on successful curricula developed for the Lehigh Valley Partnership for Teaching Fellows, an NSF GK-12 project. Summer and year round curricula will include programming remotely controlled mobile robots in a simulated Martian landscape (7th & 8th grade students), creating a web-based music juke box using Macromedia Flash (9th & 10th grade students), and enhancing a "design-first" approach to learning Java (11th & 12th grade students) with the intent of preparing them for the AP Computer Science test in two years. Math skills will be developed continually with the help of the web-based "24" game. They will include self-directed multimedia, intelligent tutoring and frequent mentoring by college undergraduate and graduate students to encourage more women and minorities to pursue computer science and enter the information technology workforce. The "Launch-IT" program will be completely integrated into Lehigh's existing academic infrastructure for "S.T.A.R." to ensure the new IT outreach activities are sustainable long term.