Teacher of the Month: One teacher in a robot costume single-handedly launched computer science at her school

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Elizabeth Bacon
Los Angeles, CA

Ms. Bacon teaches several computer science classes but she isn’t a teacher, exactly. She’s a counselor whose school didn’t offer computer science a few years ago. She proposed the idea for a course and offered to write the curriculum and teach it herself.

Today, Ms. Bacon dives into fractals, recursion and breadth-first-search with her advanced class, has her students start out with coding Homer Simpson’s head in binary and helped one 10th grader make Nicolas Cage’s face appear in every image of her friends browser as a prank!

One student, who came into high school excited about technology, but couldn’t find an outlet for her interest, said she “might’ve abandoned it forever, if not for Ms. Bacon,” who provides extra help in her free time and overall started a trend at her school, kicked off with two-week Computer Science Education Weekend celebrations aimed exposing younger students.

Why did you take on teaching computer science?
Computers are a huge part of kids’ world today, and it’s crucial to help them build their understanding of that world. Computer science is great because you get to see the results of your work right away, and you can really take control of the technology in your life.

What’s the coolest your students have built with computer science?
One of my classes made a multi-level game that including video clips, music and original animation. They worked together to make something none of them could have done on their own. I don’t think I even taught them how to do half of the things. I’d look at a student project and say, “Wait, how’d you know how to do that?”

What would you tell a student who might think computer science isn’t for them?
If you’re creative and have ideas for how people can use technology to make their lives better, you should give computer science a try. Every cool thing on your phone or the web was made using computer science.

How can other teachers bring computer science into their classrooms?
The Hour of Code was a great place for our younger kids to start. Our middle school students were literally bouncing in their seats when they learned that they’d be programming Angry Birds. Teachers with absolutely no experience were able to supervise the lesson. That first hour is a great way to get a feel for teaching computer science.

I’m looking forward to participating in this December’s Hour of Code [Dec. 8-15]. We’re going to do some unplugged activities, and I get to dress up as a robot again!

We’re sharing this story as part of our new Teacher of the Month series. There are teachers around the world who are changing the face of computer science. Do you teach with a rockstar teacher? Nominate them to be a Code.org Teacher of the Month.

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