In 2017, LSU received a grant from Google’s IgniteCS initiative to fund a community outreach program aimed at introducing local K-12 students to computer science. Over the course of two months, several college students acted as mentors to a group of students at McKinley Middle School and conducted classes designed to introduce the fundamentals of computer programming using a variable “inventor’s kit.” The program was highly successful, with students developing strong bonds with their college mentors and showing greater interest in computer science and attending college.
This all was possible because of Kristen Barrett, a 2017 LSU graduate. Barrett, a computer science major, devoted her senior thesis to formulating and pitching these ideas and plans to Google. Her vision for GeauxCS was to increase “positive perception of STEM, but mostly computer science; diversity in the field; and college enrollment, especially in Louisiana.” Barrett’s initial thesis and Google’s grant are what formed the foundation of what is now GeauxCS.
Each academic year, the vision is to successfully implement and complete GeauxCS at two to three schools in East Baton Rouge Parish or the surrounding area. LSU engineering students are hired as student mentors and are tasked with learning the activities prior to outreach into local schools. In 2019, mentors traveled to Denham Springs High School and Academy of the Sacred Heart. In 2020, mentors traveled to Belaire High School and—prior to school cancellations due to COVID-19—were also scheduled to go to Woodlawn and Broadmoor High Schools.
For more information about GeauxCS, contact program director Mikey McCareins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the fall, LSU engineering students are hired as student mentors and—prior to outreach into local schools—are tasked with learning the activities that will be the basis of GeauxCS for that particular year. We’re looking for mentors who are enthusiastic about computer science/electrical engineering overall, excited about GeauxCS, and eager to make a difference in the community.
Weekly trainings are held before any school visits happen, and an additional training is typically held in the immediate days before each visit to ensure all mentors are fully equipped to be successful. Mentors are expected to feel comfortable enough with the activities to: guide their students throughout the program, answer questions about the projects, and give challenges (coding, wiring, etc.) to students performing well.
Anywhere from 9 to 12 mentors are typically involved with GeauxCS each year. As conflicts often arise with class scheduling, mentors are not expected to go to every session at every school but to attend when their class schedule allows them to.
In addition, one or two of the mentors will be selected as a “lead mentor.” This is based off expertise with and knowledge of the planned activities. Lead mentors assist other mentors with learning the curriculum, preparing for trainings, and have other opportunities to contribute to the success of the program.
- Showcase how computer science and electrical engineering are opportunistic and exciting fields.
- Increase interest and awareness in STEM in general.
- Give students in the community a chance to form a bond with one or several college students.
- Get students in the community thinking about college.
- Be a program of equal opportunity to a variety of schools and demographics in the area.
- Give LSU engineering students—CS/EE students in particular—a chance to make a positive impact in the community using their platform and knowledge of their field.
Apply to Become a GeauxCS Mentor
Hiring for GeauxCS 2020-2021 will open at the beginning of the fall semester. For more information or inquiries about becoming a GeauxCS mentor, please contact program director Mikey McCareins.