Mary Clarke-Miller teaches Encinal High’s Multimedia class, a course that covers graphic design, web design, and Filmmaking. Her students learn digital animation, game design, and programming, and are introduced to software like Flash, Maya, BYOB, Unity and Javascript.

This may sound like a mouthful for students whose schools don’t offer computer science courses. AP Computer Science is offered in only 10% of American high schools – and according to College Board, only 14,517 students took the AP computer science test in 2010, compared to 194,784 students that took the AP calculus test. There is such a shortage of students in computer science courses in high school that Microsoft is sending engineers into schools to encourage the next generation.

Ms. Miller is pushing for more computer science classes for Encinal High. She believes that science and technology courses are important in high school because “project-based learning and applied theory helps students see the real world applications of core courses like math and physics”. That is essentially the goal of PiE – we strive to allow students to convert theory into practice by using their STEM skills to strategically build a functioning robot. While our team works to fulfill our vision, Ms. Miller and her team is working to fulfill another one: her team is working to bring two Computer Science courses to Encinal High: “Exploring Computer Science” and “CS Principles,” a course also known as “Joy and Beauty of Computing,” developed in UC Berkeley by Professor Dan Garcia. On top of that, they are even developing an after-school engineering class – to build electric go-carts!

These are exciting steps forward for Encinal that were inspired by its participation in PiE. The discussion about bringing more CS courses to Encinal was spurred after Ms. Miller’s students saw a video of the previous Encinal team participating in PiE’s robotic competition. We hope to continue inspiring and encouraging students and teachers in STEM fields.