North­eastern Stu­dents Teach and Men­torMiddle Schoolers as Part of Unique After­school Program

North­eastern University’s Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence (CCIS) has intro­duced “Boot­strap,” a novel after-​​school pro­gram aimed at intro­ducing middle schoolers to entry-​​level pro­gram­ming under the men­tor­ship of North­eastern stu­dents. Boot­strap has recently received $150,000 in funding from Microsoft.

Boot­strap offers middle schoolers a fun way to learn by enabling par­tic­i­pants to create their own video games. The ini­tia­tive was adapted by North­eastern pro­gram director, Emmanuel Schanzer and is based on the nation­ally rec­og­nized Teach­Scheme! pro­gram­ming and com­puting cur­riculum devel­oped by North­eastern Trustee Pro­fessor Matthias Felleisen.

This pro­gram is the first of its kind,” said Schanzer. “By giving chil­dren the oppor­tu­nity to learn the basics of com­puter pro­gram­ming they are able to not only expe­ri­ence a pos­sible col­lege major or pro­fes­sion, but also expand their math and sci­ence skills.”

Boot­strap par­tic­i­pants are mem­bers of Boston-​​based Cit­izen Schools, a pro­gram that oper­ates a national net­work of appren­tice­ship cur­ricu­lums for middle school stu­dents by con­necting adult vol­un­teers to young people in hands on learning projects. In line with Cit­izen School’s mis­sion, the 2007 Boot­strap pro­gram had the middle-​​schoolers teamed up with North­eastern student-​​teachers to learn to design and fully imple­ment playable video games, as part of a ten-​​week after­school program.

I learned a lot of codes and com­puter pro­gram­ming,” said Abi­gail Eze­don­mwen, a Boot­strap par­tic­i­pant from the W.B. Rogers Middle School. “We used what we learned to make our own video games.”

Coming here and learning the basics really helped,” added Boot­strap par­tic­i­pant Gre­gory Nelson, also from the W.B. Rogers Middle School. “It’s cool because Microsoft makes my favorite games, too, and I really want to work for them when I’m older.”

Boot­strap was first offered in 2005 as an inten­sive one-​​week pro­gram through Northeastern’s Com­pass Com­puter Camps, taught by under­grad­u­ates with sup­port from Schanzer. A year later, Schanzer devel­oped a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the cur­riculum that was offered as an after-​​school pro­gram. Boot­strap was piloted at two Boston-​​area schools. Microsoft’s “Part­ners in Learning” grant, which extends thru June 2008, will help the uni­ver­sity to expand the suc­cessful pro­gram and fund a roll-​​out to Texas and California.

For more infor­ma­tion on Boot­strap, please con­tact Samantha Fodrowski at 617–373-5427 or at s.​fodrowski@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.