Top Takeaways from AETC 2022

This was our first year at AETC and as you can imagine, we were so excited to attend an event in-person after two plus years of nearly all virtual.

We learned so much from talking to educators and administrators about their expectations of STEM and computer science curriculum and the challenges of providing high-quality instruction. These are some of the big takeaways from AETC that we’re talking about and that will help us make Disney Codeillusion by Life is Tech even better:
  1. Many elementary schools are not ready to offer computer science–they need guidance in choosing the right curriculum for their programs. Schools that have used free curriculum find that there’s no support, leaving teachers to figure it out on their own–this is a real burden on teachers who don’t have a STEM or CS background and don’t feel comfortable facilitating a class. As a result, there’s a real gap between expectations and what’s available.
  2. Scaffolding is critical in coding curriculum for elementary school students–younger students are still building their foundational reading comprehension and basic computer skills so instruction must build year over year.
  3. AP Computer Science courses are not quite hitting the mark as far as test prep or even career prep. Colleges are moving away from requiring the SAT/ACT, and it’s possible AP may follow as well. Teachers are left without guidance on how to best prepare their students for post-graduation. This means teachers are left to fill in the blanks and wind up with more work and time on lesson planning.
  4. Professional development and opportunities for continued training to support teachers can make all the difference between having a successful STEM/CS program and one that leaves teachers and students frustrated. This is especially true with acute teacher shortages–many schools don’t have educators with STEM/CS expertise, and yet they need to meet state CS requirements. In this situation, it’s even more important to partner with STEM/CS curriculum providers who have a growth and training mindset when it comes to supporting their customers.
  5. Project-based learning makes STEM education relevant for students–When students have the opportunity for hands-on learning, they’re more engaged and motivated.
  6. STEM and coding education shouldn’t be siloed–a strong curriculum should provide cross-curricular tie in with other subjects, like math, science, and even language units, so that students have an overall comprehensive and connected learning experience. 
  7. Middle school curriculum is often overlooked–there’s a lot of focus on coding curriculum for elementary students (mainly block-based) and high school students (career-centric), but few options for middle school.

Interested in learning about Disney Codeillusion by Life is Tech for your school or district? Schedule a custom demo with us.