SFI’s Project GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically), an afterschool program for New Mexico middle school students, is gaining national reach this school year.

Code.org, a Seattle-based nonprofit whose mission is to establish computer programming in the curriculum of every U.S. school, has incorporated Project GUTS into its national initiative to bring computer science to middle school science classrooms.

Read the article in the Santa Fe New Mexican (August 17, 2014)

Irene Lee, Director of SFI’s Learning Lab and founder of Project GUTS, says her team of educators has customized existing Project GUTS afterschool modules for integration into science classes and is preparing teachers to use them.

“We’re offering workshops that prepare teachers from large school districts to implement the modules we wrote,” she says. “Next summer Code.org wants to add more modules and prepare additional teachers in more large school districts.”

Having worked with Lee in the past, Pat Yongpradit, Director of Education at Code.org, says he knew adopting Project GUTS would be a good fit and that SFI’s program is a great model for teaching computer science to young people.

Project GUTS began in 2007 in a handful of Santa Fe-area schools. The program has gradually expanded to include some 21 schools across the state. Project GUTS received national attention last year when the Afterschool Alliance and the Noyce Foundation recognized the program with one of two national Afterschool STEM Impact Awards.

Lee says she believes every child should have the opportunity to create models and run simulations to test ideas and learn about systems, skills she believes should be universal – like problem solving and critical thinking.

“I’m very much a product of public schools, and I’ve seen that there are bright individuals everywhere,” she says. “Kids deserve a chance, and whereas previous programs focused on finding the ‘best and the brightest,’ I think for many the early development of skills was a matter of exposure and privilege. There are kids all over the world who should have equal access and exposure to educational opportunities. That continually drives me.”

To support Project GUTS, contact Lee at lee@santafe.edu.

More about SFI's computer science and modeling curriculum.