Computation happens all around us. Computer Literacy is now a fundamental skill. The logical thinking, mental tools, and concepts that define computational thinking, not how a machine thinks but rather how we as humans think through a set of instructions (or algorithms), start early in life and can be built upon. We could say that computational thinking is a combination of problem solving and creativity. Identifying patterns is one skill that builds the foundation of the computational process.
Beautiful Patterns is a program founded by Abel Sanchez, executive director of MIT's Geospatial Data Center. He and his dedicated team delivered the program to 1,000 high school girls in Mexico one summer. The successful model included bringing female computer-science graduate students from MIT to facilitate and teach the intensive one-week program to their all-girl audiences.
Assistant Dean of Research Development Sara Chavarria and Professor Erin Turner collaborated to bring Beautiful Patterns to the University of Arizona. Upward Bound Project Director Arlett Perez directs the two-week program, which supplements the Upward Bound experience. In week one, the high school students practice hands-on activities around fun themes like How to Choose a BFF or How to Pack a Suitcase, tied to the sorting and searching algorithms of computer literacy. Afternoons bring an opportunity to learn on computers and connect with the instructors, women studying computer science at MIT or at UA. Week two is a design challenge on applied engineering robotics and is held in a maker space.