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Code Calling

web color chart Computer science has the highest pay for new college graduates, twice the national average job growth of more than double the national average, and applications that stretch from rock music to medicine. Yet 9 in 10 schools don’t teach programming. hopes to change that with a host of free resources to get kids as young as four creating websites and apps.

The answer is computer programming, and advocates from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to former president Bill Clinton are pushing to include it in the K-12 curriculum.

Far from being complicated algorithms only a geek could master, code writing can be learned by just about anyone — even four-year-olds. has compiled a host of websites, courses, and other free resources to help students hone programming skills from building websites to creating phone apps. There also are tips for using code writing and programming projects and activities in math or science classes to cover content standards.

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Asteroid Impact!

asteroid impactIn this first of eight activities, students in grades 6 – 8 learn about the engineering design process and earth science by beginning to design an underground cavern that can shelter people for one year after an asteroid strike makes Earth uninhabitable.

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Build a Big Wheel

nysc1In this activity, teams of students in grades K-12 learn about the history and engineering behind Ferris wheels by constructing a working model using pasta, glue, and teabags.

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raft bugIn this activity, students in grades 6 to 8 learn about the engineering design process and the physical principles of buoyancy by working together to build a boat out of straws and plastic wrap that can hold 25 pennies for at least 10 seconds before sinking.

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Earth Day Resources

Earth in Our HandsKids love exploring the world around them, and Earth Day offers a great way to introduce them to environmental science and engineering. The following sampler includes activities, lessons, and resources that promote green engineering and science learning.

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Activity: Robot Basketball

basketball robotIn this activity, students in grades 5 to 12 learn about accuracy, precision, and simple machines by working in teams to design and build a robotic basketball “player” that can nail a free-throw shot three times in a row.

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Lesson: No Valve in Vain

heart beatIn this activity, teams of students in grades 6 to 8 will learn about the engineering design process and how a one-way valve works by creating heart valves from tape, plastic tubing, and other materials.

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Lesson: Target Practice – Pumpkin Launcher

target practiceStudents in grades 1 to 6 follow the engineering design process to build and test a catapult that launches projectiles, such as marshmallow “pumpkins.” They then make changes to improve their launcher’s aim and distance it can hurl the projectile.

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Lesson: Shake It Up with Seismographs

seismographStudents in grades 3 – 12 explore how the development of seismographs has helped save lives worldwide by working in teams to design their own seismograph from everyday items, test its ability to record a simulated classroom earthquake, evaluate their results, and report to the class.

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