The University of Arizona School of Information (iSchool) currently has undergraduate students participating in programs to promote IT and programming education and professions in K-12 environments through internships and as an extracurricular activity. With the assistance of the State Farm Enterprise Technology Priority School Grant, CDSDS has established a college student training program in the iSchool to expand the opportunities for undergraduate students to teach information technology classes in public libraries with a particular focus on women and minorities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. These occupations are projected to add about 557,100 new jobs. Demand for these workers will stem from greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security."
This sector can provide a middle-class income for a substantial portion of society. However, these professions have a substantial underrepresentation of women and minorities. In some cases, diversity in the workplace can lead to better business outcomes" (Roh & Kim, 2016). Some of the lack of participation of women and minorities in the information technology workforce can be linked to lack of engagement with IT and IT professions in middle school and high school. Organizations like code.org, Girls Who Code, Microsoft sponsored Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS), and Prenda Code Clubs have recognized the need to introduce K-12 students to programming before they have a chance to drop out.
Pima County Libraries this past year ran training programs in conjunction with Prenda Code Clubs. In the spring of 2020, until the Covid-19 pandemic closed the face-to-face library programs, four students helped teach computing skills to children in three Pima Country Public Libraries. We developed a set of self-paced training materials for kids to learn to use programming to draw patterns using a graphical "turtle."
In the fall of 2021 we will work with middle and high school teachers and University of Arizona undergraduates to bring computing training to classrooms in the area focusing on women and underrepresented communities.