Given the choice of studying algebra or video games, most teens would opt for the games. But what if there were a way to do both at the same time? Through Bootstrap, an education outreach program, WPI computer science professor Kathi Fisler and two collaborators are accomplishing just that, using gaming as the ‘spoonful of sugar’ to get kids excited about how algebra works and working computer science into the public school curriculum across socio-economic lines.
Fisler and her co-directors, Emmanuel Schanzer (Bootstrap founder and creator) and Shriram Krishnamurthi (professor of computer science at Brown University), developed the Bootstrap program in 2007 and began piloting it in the New York City school district last year. The project has been so successful that the city’s board of education has formally announced plans to have computer science available to all public school students in the next 10 years.
Select schools across the country also employ the program. Locally, Bootstrap partners with the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN), an organization working to bring CS to schools across the state.