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District : South Fayette Township School District

State : Pennsylvania

District Enrollment : 1,001-10,000 students

Community Type : Suburban

Embedding Computer Programming into Curriculum

The South Fayette Township School District is a tax-exempt public school system in South Western PA with a current enrollment of 2886 students. South Fayette School District is the fastest growing school district in the state of Pennsylvania and highest-ranking school district in Allegheny County. The reason for the dramatic increase in residents and school enrollments is a result of the excellent reputation of the school district that consistently ranks within the top 5 districts in SWPA and top 15 in the state of 501 total public school districts for academics. This year students scored 96% in reading and 94% in math on standardized tests. The mission of the South Fayette School District, in partnership with the community, is to cultivate academic, artistic, and athletic excellence by instilling a spirit of collaboration and communication to develop confident, ethical and responsible leaders. The administration focuses on the preparation of all students to be completely equipped to tackle life past graduation through rigorous academics, integrated innovative curriculum K-12 and extensive career development programs. The latest addition to the long-term goals of the district is the integration of the 16 Habits of Mind within a vertical alignment system to ensure continuous quality improvement within every classroom. South Fayette is a member of the Pittsburgh Remake Learning Network, and through this network provides outreach in STEAM Innovation to the region.

The Challenge

In this innovation-driven economy, it is critical that school districts build the capacities in students to become the innovators of tomorrow. One of the greatest challenges is to remake teaching and learning by transforming a traditional education system to one that encourages innovation in education. Addressing this challenge became the focus and mission of South Fayette Township School District in recent years.

The Solution

Over the last six years, South Fayette Township School District has transformed a traditional education system by embedding computational thinking – the engineering and design problem-solving process into the existing K-12 curriculum. The district has created makerspaces or prototype labs in each building to address this transformational curriculum. At South Fayette, computational thinking is considered the new literacy and from kindergarten forward students are taught to think abstractly, recursively, algorithmically, and logically. The practices and concepts of computer programming, electrical engineering and innovation have been embedded in the curriculum from kindergarten through 7th grade using block-based programming languages to make interactive games, stories, mobile apps and eTextile designs. Students explore deeper learning in math and science through robotics. Students explore electrical circuitry using circuitry programs. Students transition from block-based to text-based experiences at 7th grade with greater opportunities in high school through Java I, Java II, and AP Computer Science.
Some of the innovative products created by high school students include: BusBudE – an app that alerts parents when and where their students enter and exit the school bus; MyEduDecks – students presented their pen-based flashcards software application at Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA in April 2015, during the WIPPTE and E2 Global Exchange Conference; Governor’s STEM Competition Winners – students redesigned a walker to help patients with mobility issues; and Python Outreach – students designed and taught a Python course for outreach to regional schools.

Additional Resources

From South Fayette Township School District :

From the U.S. Department of Education:

District Point of Contact

Dr. Bille Rondinelli, Superintendent, South Fayette Township School District.
Phone: 412-221-4542, Ext. 413