Developing Digital Makers in the Coding Makerspace to Include Boys of Color in Computer Science Learning and Cybersecurity Workforce Development
Over 80 underrepresented boys of color grades 4-12 in Central Texas are engaged in relevant digital maker projects, earning certification in Python, and gaining real-world experience through mentoring and cyber security workforce development activities.
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). The Coding Makerspace is providing hands-on digital maker projects and support for boys of color to earn certification in Python, the computer programming language related to cybersecurity. The Makerspace is also exposing boys of color ages eight and above to research-based and best practices in computing and cybersecurity education. Additionally, the Makerspace is collaborating with local cyber security companies to gain real-world experience through shadowing and/or field placement opportunities. As a result, the Makerspace is addressing the longstanding underrepresentation of racially diverse students in computer science and increasing their interest in cybersecurity opportunities in higher education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
The Coding Makerspace has great potential to advance knowledge on ways to achieve the goals of equity, diversity, access, and inclusion of racially diverse students in computer science education. The Makerspace is providing boys of color with that support to be creators, not consumers, of computing and cybersecurity innovations that will contribute to society. The project is also facilitating the development of new knowledge on how to broaden the impact of the hands-on computer science education needed to increase racially diverse student interest and cybersecurity workforce preparation. In addition, the Makerspace is addressing the increasing need for all students, particularly underrepresented young men of color, to prepare for the expected growth of cybersecurity jobs that protects the country's national security.