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Kiki Prottsman
Kiki is the Education Program Manager at and a former computer science instructor at the University of Oregon.

As a champion for responsible computing and equity in both CS employment and education, Kiki works with many organizations to improve the experience of girls and women in STEM. Her landmark work with the hands-on Traveling Circuits computer science curriculum helped Thinkersmith receive the 2013 Google RISE Award for excellence in Science and Engineering. She currently sits on the Advisory Board for Wonder Workshop Robotics, and is a vital member of the Leadership team for the Oregon Girls Collaborative Project.

Entries by Kiki Prottsman

Coding vs. Programming -- Battle of the Terms!

(14) Comments | Posted April 12, 2015 | 10:46 PM

With the recent rise in computer science classes across all grades, we're starting to grow our personal vocabularies in ways that make the average person uncomfortable. To complicate matters, many of these "new" words seem to have...

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Computer Time: How Long Is Too Long?

(0) Comments | Posted February 17, 2015 | 8:47 PM

Students are spending more and more time with technology these days.  They're looking at monitors in class and at home.  They use screens for education,...
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What is the Hour of Code?

(0) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 12:59 AM

You may vaguely remember hearing something about the Hour of Code last year.  You may even be able put a face to...
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An Experiment in STEM Equity

(2) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 9:17 AM

Recently, at a meeting for the Oregon Girls Collaborative project, I decided to try something new. When giving my speech on equity, I decided to skip the charts and graphs, and give the audience a truly immersive experience.

Before my session, I had an assistant help me...

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Engaging Girls in Your STEM Program

(1) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 5:26 PM

Even programs with the best intentions sometimes have difficulty attracting girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

Here are some tips and tricks for balancing the gender gap for your event:

Digital Invites
Have a female student help you make digital invitations that...

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Helping Computer Science Gain STEAM With Girls

(2) Comments | Posted December 9, 2013 | 8:46 AM

Editor's Note: This post is part of a series produced by HuffPost's Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. Join the community as we discuss issues affecting women in science, technology, engineering and math.

Ask any woman currently in...

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Education Can Be Recreation This Thanksgiving

(0) Comments | Posted November 26, 2013 | 8:20 PM

Chances are, you're going to have a hard time trying to avoid technology this Thanksgiving... so why not surprise your family by embracing the robotic uprising this year, rather than trying to prevent it?

Computer Science Education Week...

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Do Your Colleagues Think You Are 'Tech Dumb'?

(2) Comments | Posted February 5, 2013 | 2:24 PM

There are several digital faux pas that grate on the nerves of people who are comfortable with 21st century computer skills. In fact, you may not even know that your coworkers perceive you as a digital idiot, because common courtesy prevents them from calling you out on your naiveté. If...

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Why American Students Are Trailing in Computer Science

(29) Comments | Posted January 2, 2013 | 4:23 PM

Imagine, if you will, a world where Americans don't teach their children math in elementary school. Imagine that children no longer learn addition in first grade, subtraction in second or multiplication and division in third and fourth. Imagine instead that children make it all the...

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The Art of a Well-Rounded Education

(4) Comments | Posted October 19, 2012 | 1:07 PM

Last week, I went to the local middle school to guest-teach a lesson on computer science to a group of 6th graders.  My particular brand of computational thinking education is very hands-on, relying on craft projects and games to illustrate key ideas. Imagine my surprise when the students flew through the lesson on algorithms, but got tripped up tying knots!

As the lesson came to an end, the teacher thanked me for coming and said in a hushed tone, "This was good for them. They need more practice using their hands.  Most of my students can't even cut out shapes with scissors these days."

Floored by that revelation, I decided to compare notes from other groups.  Sure enough, in short experiments, knot tying was a hurdle for kids grades K-8.  It's not just in my part of the world, either.  Back in March, a British survey claimed that school children are excelling in technology and lacking in common life skills. Many believe that this is due to a decrease in time during the school day for subjects like art and music. This phenomenon has been studied and documented, defended and dismissed, but I continue to maintain that the rise of one specialty does not have to oust traditional talents.

My solution is simple and approachable.  Some call it Blended Learning, but really it's a common sense approach toward maintaining handicraft through education.  Just like I encourage my sons to "read the book" before they see a movie, I encourage students to experience concepts through real-life exercises before they play with technical simulations.  Tie knots.  Fold origami.  Play with Legos.  These things can teach you about anything from mathematics to programming to African savannas.  Best of all, it appeals to additional learning styles which aren't satisfied by purely audio or visual cues.

This is not to say that the responsibility falls squarely on the schools.  The most promising approach is really to integrate these types of projects into fun activities at home and outside of school hours.  Encourage your children (or your friend's children) to make paper airplanes!  Use them to learn about aerodynamics.  That's fun at any age.

If you think that coming up with hands-on activities for your geography lesson, astronomy class, or book club is too difficult, hop on over to Pinterest.  Excellent teachers are pinning examples of hands-on curriculum all the time.  Don't see anything specific to your particular subject?  Send a tweet to me at @kiki_lee and I will personally help you find well-rounded activities for your kiddos.

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What Is STEM Anyway?

(3) Comments | Posted October 5, 2012 | 1:04 PM

2012-10-04-GirlsInvent.jpgProfessionals who spend any time in academics or grant-writing may have noticed that 2012 has become the year of STEM. More precisely, it has become the year of talking about STEM. That buzzword has been flying around so aggressively...

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The Reason I Want You to "Picture Me in Computing"

(8) Comments | Posted November 1, 2010 | 5:41 PM

I'll admit, it's probably my own fault for having boys. If I had just given birth to girls like I had originally intended then I most likely wouldn't feel this supremely encompassing guilt over contributing to the disproportionate number of men to women in computer science. At age six, my...

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