Light bulb moments in computer science with Jason McKenna

One of the more powerful reasons to integrate computer science is the power that comes from students iterating. In this week’s episode of Let’s Talk Computer Science, we get to hear from Jason McKenna, Director of Global Educational Strategy at VEX Robotics about the power of failure and what students can learn from it.


Unleashing the Power Within: Empowering Lives through Computer Science Education

Prepare to be moved. Today, we delve into the extraordinary journey of Jason McKenna—a passionate advocate for computer science education and the Global Director of Educational Strategy at VEX Robotics. Jason’s story is a testament to the profound impact computer science education can have on individuals, communities, and the world. Brace yourself for an emotional rollercoaster that will leave you inspired, motivated, and ready to make a difference.

Jason’s odyssey began as a dedicated classroom teacher, driven by the desire to shape young minds and uplift lives. Little did he know that his path would lead him to the forefront of a global movement—the movement to bring computer science education to all. Through his work at VEX Robotics, the largest STEM education company in the world, Jason has had the privilege of connecting with educators across the globe, spreading the power of computer science to the farthest corners of our planet.

But what ignited Jason’s passion for this field? It was a pivotal moment when he was entrusted with overseeing his school’s enrichment program. His students, hungry for knowledge, yearned to explore the realm of coding and robotics. Eager to provide them with the best opportunities, Jason embarked on a quest for expertise. He partnered with the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy, immersing himself in a world of innovation, collaboration, and discovery.

As Jason witnessed his students embrace coding, he realized the transformative potential of computer science education. It was no longer just about programming robots; it was about fostering creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Through coding, students learned to collaborate authentically, to find multiple solutions, and to embrace failure as a stepping stone to success. These were the skills that would equip them for a future where technology and innovation are omnipresent.

But the journey didn’t stop there. Jason’s vision extended far beyond the classroom walls. At VEX Robotics, equity and access are not mere buzzwords—they are fundamental principles. They firmly believe that computer science education should be within reach of every student, regardless of their background or circumstances. To achieve this, VEX Robotics has taken bold steps. They have made robotics kits more affordable, developed free resources like VEXcode VR, and provided comprehensive professional development programs for teachers. Their goal? To ensure that every student, regardless of their socio-economic status, can unlock the door to a world of possibilities.

Implementing computer science education comes with its fair share of challenges. But success stories from districts like Henry County in Georgia and Woodland Hills in Pittsburgh demonstrate that obstacles can be overcome. These districts have integrated computer science seamlessly into their regular curriculum, making it an integral part of every student’s educational journey. By providing unwavering support to teachers, designing engaging lessons, and fostering collaboration among educators, they have created an environment where all students can flourish.

At VEX Robotics, they understand that true change is catalyzed by the collective effort of educators. That’s why they organize the VEX Educators Conference at VEX Worlds—a platform that brings together passionate educators from around the world. Here, they share best practices, collaborate, and inspire one another. It is through these connections and shared experiences that educators ignite a movement—a movement that transcends borders and empowers students to shape their own destinies.

Now, the call to action beckons. Join hands with your child and embark on a remarkable journey into the world of computer science. Embrace coding, robotics, and problem-solving as tools of empowerment. Nurture their curiosity, ignite their passion, and watch as they unveil the depths of their untapped potential. By equipping them with the skills and mindset fostered by computer science education, you are nurturing a generation of innovators, visionaries, and change-makers who will shape a brighter future for all.

The time is now. Dive into the boundless resources and initiatives offered by VEX Robotics. Engage with educators, parents, and community members to foster a vibrant network of support. Together, we can unleash the power within each individual, creating a ripple effect of transformation that will resonate for generations to come. The world needs innovators, dreamers, and compassionate leaders. Let’s embrace the call, unite our efforts, and empower lives through the transformative force of computer science education.

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