Talking about Computer Science for Good in Your Classroom


Computer science is a foundational subject in today’s world that will benefit students in any career path. It not only gives them room to flex their creativity but also equips them with the tools to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.

How computer science is used and applied in the real world is a crucial part of learning computer science. That is why we’re focusing on #CSforGood as the theme for the Hour of Code this year. We can help students understand some of the challenges that people around the world face and inspire them to think more deeply about the role computer science can play in creating a more equitable and sustainable world.

Using the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guide, our goal is to convey to students how computer science can make a positive impact in our world - from self-driving car technology that can make our roads safer, to data science techniques that can identify disease earlier and keep us healthier.


When considering CS for Good, we were inspired to think about the potential of Artificial Intelligence, and are pleased to introduce Code.org's brand-new Hour of Code activity: AI for Oceans. In this activity, students will learn about AI, machine learning, training data, and bias, all while exploring ethical issues and how AI can be used to address world problems. It's also just one example of how CS is about much more than coding. Enjoy this first step in a new journey to teach more about AI!

Example #CSforGood discussion prompts

Here are some themes and questions to spark discussion in your classroom about the role of technology in creating positive social change. For a deeper discussion, pair these prompts with stories of CS for Good in the real-world.

Technology can be part of the solution.

While large, systemic challenges like poverty and environmental sustainability often require attitude shifts, wide-scale cooperation, and in some cases, personal or collective sacrifice, technology can help jumpstart efforts, detect problems, and ease barriers.

Questions or prompts for discussion:

  • Think of some challenges faced by people in your school, neighborhood, city, or anywhere else in the world. What are some solutions people have come up with to solve those problems?
  • How can computer science be combined with other efforts to address different parts of the problem?
  • Are there any issues you think technology can’t help solve? Why or why not?

Computer science is helping address challenges, big and small, all around the world.

Whether building affordable technology to help farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, programming white blood cells to fight cancer, or revolutionizing the packaged foods industry with artificial intelligence, people are using CS in creative ways to solve problems and provide opportunities for others.

Questions or prompts for discussion:

  • Can you think of any problems in your own life that could be solved or helped using computer science?
  • What’s a recent example you’ve seen where technology was used to help solve a pressing problem somewhere in the world?
  • Do you think there are ways to use computer science in addressing big issues like healthcare, access to clean water, or poverty?

Note for teachers: Use the above articles OR find a few of your own and distribute them to students to read beforehand. Then, use them to structure your discussion.

With great power comes great responsibility.

Computer science can be a source of positive change...or it can create new challenges. By recognizing that CS, like any tool, requires thoughtfulness and ethical responsibility, we can empower students to think critically and work on solving problems holistically.

Questions or prompts for discussion:

  • Should there be rules or guidelines in place for how to use computer science to solve big issues?
  • If so, why or why not?
  • Can you brainstorm any?

Today’s students will be tomorrow’s problem-solvers, innovators, and decision-makers.

The more accessible CS education is, the more students we can reach and the more inclusive, diverse, and impactful tomorrow’s technology and solutions will be.

Questions or prompts for discussion:

  • Why is it important that everyone has access to learn computer science?
  • What do you think might happen to solutions and programs if only the same kind of person studied computer science?
  • Can you think of what you might say to someone to encourage them to learn computer science?

CS for Good-Inspired Hour of Code Activities

If you're looking for an engaging way to introduce your students to the concept of CS for Good, there are countless tutorials and activities to choose from!

Beginner Activities

For students who are new to computer science, these activities will help them develop a basic understanding of CS concepts.

Activity Description Grades
Beach Cleanup with Kodable (Kodable) Learn to program using basic commands and clean up the beach to protect ocean life. Grades 2+
Imagine a World (Scratch) Imagine a world where anything is possible, then bring it to life with Scratch! Grades 2+
Minecraft Hour of Code: AI for Good (Microsoft: Education Edition) Program the Minecraft Agent to collect data about forest fires. Then write code to help prevent the spread of fire, save the village, and bring life back to the forest. Learn coding basics and explore a real-world example of artificial intelligence. Requires client download. Grades 2+
AI for Oceans Students will learn about AI, machine learning, training data, and bias, all while exploring ethical issues and how AI can be used to address world problems. Grades 3+
Code Your Hero (Google) Turn an everyday hero from your life or community into a superhero by programming them to fly over buildings, spin, work with a sidekick, and score points by touching objects in a game. In Code Your Hero, show off your hero's special powers and your own creativity with CS First and Scratch. Grades 2-8
Responsible Consumption and Production (Tynker) Part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals project, this coding prompt shows off projects exploring issues surrounding recycling and reuse. Beginners can play with working projects and advanced programmers can create their own projects from scratch. Grades 2-8
Security Siege (Code Avengers) Join Niko and Sakura on their virtual reality journey to Tubrosos Castle. You will expose the poor security systems used at the castle and learn how to avoid becoming the victim of a scam. Grades 2-8
Codesters: Code Your Own PSA (Codesters) Learn the basics of coding in Python while creating your own Public Service Announcement. Choose a topic you find important and design you own animated or interactive PSA to share critical information about how to make a positive impact on the world. Grades 6+
Plastic Pollution PSA (Vidcode) The problem of plastic filling our oceans continues to worsen. Luckily, you can make your voice heard with code through the Plastic Pollution PSA. After coding a PSA on plastic pollution using JavaScript, you can make a second video about any subject you care about! Learn to use loops, sine waves and customized emojis to make a unique project. Grades 6+
Vidcode: Deal With It (Vidcode) Start coding for good by creating animations featuring notable women leaders and quotes that express their point of view. Grades 6+
Eco Warriors #Trashtag Code your own game and raise awareness for protecting our environment. Grades 6+
Vidcode: Map Your Community Collect and analyze data for community engagement, by coding your own community map! Grades 6+
Vidcode: Climate Science & Code (Vidcode) Students research a fact about the Earth's climate, engaging with the work of scientists and artists in response to climate change. Students then take their research and plan a video sharing their fact. Videos can be about understanding climate change and its effects, public response to climate change, how climate change impacts everyday life, and what actions can you take to make a difference. Grades 6+
Mosquito patrol (Raspberry Pi) Make a game where you protect people from malaria by making a parrot catch mosquitoes. Grades 6-8
Digital Citizenship: Online Safety (Vidcode) (BrainPOP) Creative Coding - developed with Scratch and Vidcode - pairs block- and text-based projects with hundreds of cross-curricular topics. Projects are scaffolded so that teachers of any subject - regardless of prior experience - can easily introduce coding. The project-based approach positions coding as a means of self-expression for students and gives them a creative way to show what they know. Grades 6-8
Digital Citizenship: Online Safety (Scratch) (BrainPOP) Creative Coding - developed with Scratch and Vidcode - pairs block- and text-based projects with hundreds of cross-curricular topics. Projects are scaffolded so that teachers of any subject - regardless of prior experience - can easily introduce coding. The project-based approach positions coding as a means of self-expression for students and gives them a creative way to show what they know. Grades 6-8
Aqueducts (Terminal Two, Endless) In this puzzle game, you're the hero bringing water back to your village! Make your way through the levels in this self-guided isometric experience. Levels will start simple, exposing players to basic coding fundamentals. As you play, you will learn more complex coding techniques. Afterwards, design and build your own levels and puzzles to share. Grades 6-8


Comfortable Activities

These activities are best for students who have already developed a basic understanding of computer science concepts. Comfortable activities are great for students looking to deepen their knowledge!

Activity Description Grades
Affordable and Clean Energy (Tynker) (HTML) Part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals project, this coding project has you create your own webpage exploring renewable energy, energy efficiency, and access to energy. Design your own page showcasing sustainability issues! Grades 2+
Affordable and Clean Energy (Tynker) Part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals project, this coding prompt shows off projects exploring renewable energy, energy efficiency, and access to energy. Readers can play with working projects and advanced programmers can create their own original projects. Grades 2-8
Life on Land (Tynker) Part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals project, this coding prompt shows off projects exploring the importance of forests to the world's ecosystem. Readers can play with working projects and advanced programmers can create their own original projects. Grades 2-8
Change the World (Tynker) Create a project that shows how you would change the world! Whether you are passionate about recycling or have an idea to achieve world peace, share your vision with code! Grades 2-8
Responsible Consumption and Production (Javascript) (Tynker) Part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals project, this coding prompt shows off a short project exploring recycling and reuse. Readers can create their own game by expanding the project. Grades 6+
Life on Land (Python) (Tynker) Part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals project, this Python project will have you create your own tree-planting game. Grades 6+


Robotics Activities

Built around various robotics or physical computing sets, these tutorials are great for a hands-on computer science experience.

Activity Description Grades
KIBO Snowplow - Important Jobs in the Community The city is covered in snow, and we need to design a KIBO snowplow to help clean up! Students will engage in the engineering design process as they design, test, and improve snowplow robots that can help clean up the cotton-ball snow. Students will also learn more about the many important jobs that make a community function. Pre-reader to Grade 5
micro:bit: coding towards Global Goal 14, Life Below Water Code your way to preserving the oceans using micro:bit. Find out more about Global Goal 14, Life Below Water and learn to code a sea turtle beach light. Grades 2-8
micro:bit: coding towards Global Goal 14, Life on Land Code your way to protecting local wildlife using micro:bit. Find out more about Global Goal 15, Life on Land and learn to code a wildlife species counter. Grades 2-8
Sphero Goes Green Once you've learned the basics of computer science, take your understanding a step further. In this activity, learn how to use a counting number variable to keep track of all your classrooms recycling. Grades 2-8

Using CS for Good in the Real World

Every day, organizations and individuals are finding new ways to use computer science to help solve the world's challenges. Here are some real-world examples to take a look at with your classroom.

Try using the Example Discussion Prompts with your classroom to investigate how these solutions are using CS for Good, and if there's room for improvement.

Environment

Health and fitness

Public Safety/Security

Manufacturing/Infrastructure/Robotics

Research