Middle School Pathways in Computer Science (“CS Pathways”) is an NSF-supported ITEST Strategies project that has created a partnership between the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML), the Tri-City Technology Education Collaborative Inc. (TRITEC), and the urban school districts of Medford and Everett, MA. With activities in-school and during the summer, CS Pathways is bringing project-based, socially-relevant computing experiences to district middle school students, and studying students’ learning of computer science.

Project teachers have developed a 15- to 20-hour computing curriculum that is integrated with existing district technology and engineering courses. In 2016, its second project year, the curriculum is present in all seven district middle schools, and is being delivered to 450 students per year. In 2015, the project team conducted intensive 30-hour summer camps attended by 72 students. The team plans to reach 140 students in each of its second and third years.

Using MIT App Inventor, a blocks-based design environment for building mobile apps, students are developing their own apps that support socially relevant activities in their communities. University computer science students and industry professionals are visiting project classrooms and working with middle school students.

The team is investigating: (1) student learning outcomes—how the project’s school-day and summer-intensive project work and career awareness activities influence students’ attitudes toward computing and ability to engage in computing practices; (2) teacher outcomes—how the project’s collaborative professional development model leads to teacher content learning and curricular adoptions; and (3) broadening participation outcomes—how the school-day intervention leads to students’ choice of continued involvement in computing, including the summer camps and future opportunities beyond middle school.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1433592. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.