Loyola University Chicago

Department of Computer Science


STARS Leadership Corps activities continue

STARS Leadership Corps activities continue

Loyola's chapter of the STARS Leadership Corps (SLC) of the STARS Alliance is continuing to work towards the goal of broadening participation in computing. The new chapter website includes a blog with reports of recent activities. Some examples are teaching Scratch programming to youngsters at a community center, making presentations about computing at high schools and elementary schools, mentoring a high school robotics team, mentoring high school students in the American Computer Science League contest, and teaching computing skills to refugees.

New members are welcome to join the SLC at any time; it's not hard to identify interesting projects. Students may continue projects initiated by graduating students or proceed in new directions with assignments that benefit the computing community or advance their own computing skills, keeping in mind the overarching goal of broadening participation in computing (especially among women, under-represented minorities, and persons with disabilities).

Under appropriate circumstances, SLC assignments may earn credit and/or a stipend. Many assignments can fit within the context of a service learning course to be run as COMP 390-001 in Fall 2012, while other assignments may proceed more independently (as a for-credit independent study or as a non-credit activity). The service learning course ran successfully in Fall 2011 as COMP 390-002 and is approved for the "Engaged Learning" Core requirement and for the "service learning" requirement of the Honors Program. Stipends of $500 per semester may be available to students fulfilling requirements of the national STARS Alliance.

Student seeking membership in the SLC and/or a stipend should email Dr. Ronald Greenberg with an explanation of the activities they would like to carry out and how the student's SLC membership and activities will further the goal of broadening participation in computing. Especially favored will be students enrolling in the COMP 390 service learning course. Students in this course will meet in Fall 2012 on Wednesdays from 2:45 to 3:35 at Lake Shore Campus and must perform at least 25 hours of service in the community. (Graduate students signing up for any section of COMP 490 can also follow a similar path, though Core requirements do not apply.) In any case, enrollment in COMP 390 can count towards the 6-credit practicum requirement in undergraduate degrees, and graduate programs can include up to 6 credits of COMP 490.

Per the broad guidelines of the STARS Alliance, SLC assignments generally fall within the following categories, and include three components: written reflection, presentation to peers, and outreach to community

  • Outreach Ambassadors in K--12
  • Service Learning
  • Research Experiences for Undergraduates
  • Internship Experiences
  • SLC Peer Coordinators, Peer Ambassadors, Peer Mentors
  • Tiered Mentoring

Some more specific suggestions of activities that might fit well in the context of the service learning course include:

  • visiting high schools and/or other schools to make presentations to students about computing
  • mentoring/tutoring high school students in computing and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects
  • helping to coach robotics team, e.g., for FIRST competitions
  • working with organizations such as the Chicago-based i.c.stars that provide technical preparation and mentoring for young adults to achieve career-redirection into IT
  • working with groups like Girl Scouts, Aspira, BDPA, etc., to provide computing experiences to students
  • run after-school or weekend workshops to help students and parents with concrete computing needs
  • mentor less experienced university students
  • run university or high school computing clubs possibly focused on underrepresented demographic groups

Students should feel free to combine various activities and/or propose new ones.

(Note that the STARS Leadership Corps, as a chapter within the STARS Alliance is distinct from the older but more local STARS mentoring program run by Loyola's Office of Student Diversity. These programs do, however, share some goals and may be able to build positive synergies between them.)