Chariho represents at CS4RI summit

Chariho High School students were among those from across Rhode Island who gathered at the CS4RI summit on Wednesday at the University of Rhode Island. Pictured left to right are Alexis Pardington, senior, Samantha Kellers, senior, Jacob Doherty, senior, Katie Thoman, senior, Jayna Thornley, sophomore.

KINGSTON — Over 1,500 students, teachers and business leaders from across Rhode Island gathered Wednesday morning at the Ryan Center for a CS4RI summit, hosted by the RI Office of Innovation.

In an effort to offer students the opportunity to thrive in today’s digital world, Gov. Gina Raimondo introduced the statewide CS4RI (Computer Science for Rhode Island) initiative earlier this year as a commitment to bring computer science to all Rhode Island public schools by December, 2017.

Currently, over half the public schools in the state offer computer science courses.

“We are the only state in the country doing this,” Raimondo addressed the crowd Wednesday. “One state in America can say that we’re offering computer science in every public school. And that state’s Rhode Island.”

The CS4RI summit was the first of its kind, showing off a range of projects and research related to computer science and technology. All over the Ryan Center, industry professionals and students from middle schools, high schools and colleges statewide showed off robots, interactive designs and apps.

“So what’s today all about,” Raimondo said. “It’s about making sure every kid in Rhode Island, regardless of if you’re a By KENDRA

GRAVELLE

KINGSTON — Over 1,500 students, teachers and business leaders from across Rhode Island gathered Wednesday morning at the Ryan Center for a CS4RI summit, hosted by the RI Office of Innovation.

In an effort to offer students the opportunity to thrive in today’s digital world, Gov. Gina Raimondo introduced the statewide CS4RI (Computer Science for Rhode Island) initiative earlier this year as a commitment to bring computer science to all Rhode Island public schools by December, 2017.

Currently, over half the public schools in the state offer computer science courses.

“We are the only state in the country doing this,” Raimondo addressed the crowd Wednesday. “One state in America can say that we’re offering computer science in every public school. And that state’s Rhode Island.”

The CS4RI summit was the first of its kind, showing off a range of projects and research related to computer science and technology. All over the Ryan Center, industry professionals and students from middle schools, high schools and colleges statewide showed off robots, interactive designs and apps.

“So what’s today all about,” Raimondo said. “It’s about making sure every kid in Rhode Island, regardless of if you’re a boy or a girl, the color of your skin, if your parents went to college, what neighborhood you come from or your zip code, none of that matters. All that matters is that you have an equal chance to be successful and have opportunity in your life.”

At Chariho, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) has been incorporated into its curriculum through computer science classes, coding classes and a robotics program. Five of the seven students from the high school’s AP Science Technology class were in attendance Wednesday to show off the app they had created.

“Our app is designed around people who have a passion for music, love music, but don’t have either the time or the money to take lessons,” explained Jacob Doherty, a senior at Chariho.

Doherty explained that the students were dissatisfied with existing apps which only aid in teaching single instruments.

“But what if you had an app for every single instrument,” he asked. “What if you had an app that had an entire orchestra in front of you, and you could say, ‘I want to play this instrument,’ and it tells you, this is how you play every single note?”

The app also allows users to download music and can connect users to music instructors who give music lessons via Skype.

“What this app really focuses on, though, is it can analyze your music for you,” Doherty added.

Complete with frequency-tracking software, the app will alert the user to notes that are played incorrectly.

“It will listen to you play,” Doherty said, “and it’ll tell you if it was a little sharp, a little flat, you played the wrong note, a little bit too loud, a little too soft, a little bit off rhythm.

“Through this, not only do you learn the music, you learn how to better play your instrument,” he continued. “It can say, ‘your technique was great, but you need to work a little bit on your rhythm.”

The students have submitted their app for the Verizon App Challenge, a nationwide contest into which middle and high school students enter concepts for mobile apps which address problems within their community.

“So we’re hoping we get some sort of prize for what we submitted,” said Megan Curran, math and AP computer science teacher at Chariho Regional High School. “I think computer science really needs to come into schools. I was a math and computer science person in college, so it’s awesome to be able to share my passion with them.”

The students will find out early next year whether or not they’ll take home any prizes for their app.

Several URI students also exhibited apps Wednesday. For first-year student Eunice Arokiadoss, the event was an opportunity to show off her love of coding.

Her app, called Color Bounce, is similar to Brick Breaker, a computer game in which the player must use paddles to deflect a bouncing ball and smash into bricks.

In Arokiadoss’ game, the player moves a paddle from side to side in an effort to bounce a ball up and into a brick ceiling. The app was created using MIT App Inventor.

Arokiadoss, who graduated from North Kingstown High School last year, said she learned to code when she was in the tenth grade.

“[Coding] is like a wall,” Arokiadoss explained, “and you have to keep opening windows. If you open enough windows, you will have all the light shine through. That’s how you learn to be a good coder. Really, anyone can do it.”

“I think everyone should code,” she continued. “It’s a way of thinking and you learn strategy, you learn how to do math. It’s really such a rush.”

Raimondo said that in the coming years, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training anticipates 4,000 job openings in Rhode Island that will require basic computer skills.

And while the CS4RI summit showed off how far students and industry leaders alike have come in the field of computer science, it also offered inspiration for those in attendance to continue to plug away.

“Stay focused on computer skills and digital skills,” Raimondo addressed the students at Wednesday’s summit, “and then we’ll make sure there’s a good job for you here in Rhode Island.”

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