Going beyond the hour of code with Sarah Phelps

Not everyone has a deep background in Computer Science, but that shouldn’t stop us from teaching it or from giving students access to opportunities with CS. In this week’s episode, we chat with Instructional Technology Coach Sarah Phelps about how computer science can help students make connections to other subjects and empower their learning.


Unleashing the Potential of Computer Science Education: Insights from Sarah Phelps


Hey there, fellow educators and enthusiasts! Today, we have the pleasure of diving deep into the world of computer science education with Sarah Phelps, a passionate advocate and STEM Program Manager at the Learning Technology Center of Illinois. Sarah’s journey and experiences offer valuable insights into the state of computer science education in Illinois and beyond. So, grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and let’s embark on this enlightening conversation!

Illinois’s Dedication to Computer Science Education:

You won’t believe the commitment Illinois has made to computer science education! Starting from the next academic year, every public high school in the state is required to offer an introductory computer science course accessible to all students. It’s a groundbreaking step toward ensuring that computer science is no longer an exclusive club. Plus, Illinois has adopted computer science standards that align with the national standards set by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). Talk about paving the way for a future-ready generation!

Sarah’s Journey into the World of Computer Science:

Sarah’s story is both inspiring and relatable. You see, she didn’t grow up with a computer science background. In fact, she didn’t even have a home computer until high school! But her husband, a software developer, saw her potential and encouraged her to give coding a shot. It was during an “Hour of Code” event that Sarah had her “aha” moment. As she completed a coding activity and shared it with her fourth-grade students, she witnessed the power of computer science firsthand. One student, who struggled with math, shone bright and experienced a newfound confidence. That’s when Sarah realized the immense impact computer science could have on students’ lives.

Empowering Educators and Conquering Self-Doubt:

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: self-doubt among educators when it comes to teaching computer science. It’s completely normal to feel a little intimidated by something new, especially when it involves technology. Sarah understands this all too well. That’s why she’s on a mission to empower teachers and help them overcome their fears. By providing support, resources, and a community of like-minded educators, Sarah and the LTC are making it easier for teachers to embrace computer science as a powerful tool for enhancing problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity in the classroom.

Building Connections and Sharing the Enthusiasm:

You know what they say, “It takes a village!” And in the world of computer science education, building connections is key. Sarah Phelps is not only a proponent of collaboration; she’s a social media maven too. You can find her on Twitter, where she shares her insights and experiences with a vibrant community of educators. But it doesn’t stop there. The LTC organizes networking meetings, professional development opportunities, and webinars, creating spaces for educators to connect, learn, and share their triumphs and challenges. It’s all about fostering a supportive and enthusiastic community of learners.

STEM Playground: Where Learning Comes to Life:

Imagine a place where educators gather to explore, tinker, and learn alongside their peers. That’s the idea behind STEM Playground, an experiential learning opportunity created in partnership with organizations like Connected Learning. Teachers get hands-on experiences with 3D printers, robots, and other cutting-edge technologies. They engage in candid conversations, discovering creative ways to integrate computer science and STEM concepts into their classrooms. It’s all about making learning fun, approachable, and relevant!


Sarah Phelps’s journey and the work being done at the Learning Technology Center of Illinois represent a true revolution in computer science education. Illinois’s commitment to bringing computer science to every high school student is paving the way for a future where digital literacy and problem-solving skills are the norm. By empowering educators, fostering connections, and providing engaging learning opportunities, Sarah and the LTC are shaping a generation ready to conquer the digital age. Together, let’s unleash the potential of computer science education and equip our students for a future full of possibilities!

Computer Science with Rex Academy

Learn about Rex Academy’s computer science curriculum.

Recent Episodes

Data Visualization Game Development


Data Visualization Game Development