K-12 Outreach


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Many of our programs depend on volunteers to make them possible. There are many ways volunteers can share their time, talents, and expertise--whether you have a little or a lot to give! Please take a moment to fill out the CS @ ILLINOIS Outreach Volunteer Expression of Interest Form.


The Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a global reputation for developing revolutionary technology—where groundbreaking research addresses real-world problems. We take great pride in our role in educating computer scientists who change our world by doing things that were once thought impossible.

Computer science underpins just about every aspect of modern life. The arts, science, business, medicine, and engineering all benefit from the computational power, modeling, and thinking found in computer science. These skills are highly sought-after in industry and academia and result in many lucrative, impactful, and fulfilling career opportunities. However, being a computer scientist is rarely even considered by young people—especially girls and minorities—as they dream about what they want to be when they grow up. We invite you to help us change that.

CS @ ILLINOIS has developed a series of outreach programs targeted especially for our local community to raise awareness about and interest in computer science. We are looking for advocates, partners, and participants for our programs that will help inform K-12 educators and perspective students and their parents about the fascinating and fun applications of computer science. Please join us, help us spread the word, and support these upcoming activities:

ChicTech Visits

ChicTech Visits (pronounced “sheek-tek”) are led by members of the Women in Computer Science student club. An all-volunteer ChicTech team will travel to Illinois high schools to deliver a presentation to explain and demystify the field of computer science. The ChicTech team will give a glimpse into life as a CS @ ILLINOIS student and explore the exciting and challenging career options open to graduates. The presentation also confronts the stereotypes of the male-dominated field and debunks myths, cites success stories, and shares personal experiences. To schedule a ChicTech visit, please email cs-outreach@illinois.edu.

ChicTech Retreat

Led by the Women in Computer Science student club, ChicTech Retreat is an overnight weekend conference for high school girls to get an introduction to technology and the culture of CS @ ILLINOIS. Activities include technology workshops on Scratch, HTML, or JavaScript depending on experience level, and also include several social activities that foster networking and teamwork. The ChicTech Retreat is usually held each November, and information will be posted on the CS Outreach Calendar. You can also email questions to cs-outreach@illinois.edu.

Gems Computer Science Camp for Girls

Gems Computer Science Camp for Girls is a week-long day camp designed to dazzle and delight students by exposing them to the broad field of computing and its applications. Curriculum for the week will inspire young women to consider computing as a course of future study, and to teach them to see computation as a tool of creativity and self-expression. We focus on the specific content of the daily lessons to include an abundance of social communication and group problem solving. Each day offers diversity of setting and engagement, including lab work, classroom activities, and some field trips. Gems Camp offers one 2-week track for high school girls, and four 1-week tracks for middle school girls. Gems Camp is held over six weeks between June and July. Information will be posted on the CS Outreach Calendar. You can also email questions to cs-outreach@illinois.edu.

Girls Who Code

CS @ ILLINOIS hosts a chapter of Girls Who Code (girlswhocode.com), a club that allows middle school and high school girls to explore coding in a fun and friendly environment. The goal is to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. The CS @ ILLINOIS Girls Who Code club meets on Sunday afternoons during the school year in 0224 Siebel Center from 1:00pm-3:00pm. You can email questions to cs-outreach@illinois.edu

CS @ ILLINOIS Hour of Code

In conjunction with Computer Science Education Week, and Hour of Code, CS @ ILLINOIS hosts an Hour of Code that is open to the public and a great outing for the whole family. We use Code.org as the guided curriculum, and support is available from several CS @ ILLINOIS students, faculty, staff, and volunteers. The CS @ ILLINOIS Hour of Code event is held each December, and information will be posted on the CS Outreach Calendar. You can also email questions to cs-outreach@illinois.edu. 2016 Hour of Code at CS @ ILLINOIS flier.


Led by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and Women in Computer Science (WCS) student clubs, CS @ ILLINOIS Sail is a free, day-long showcase for high school students to learn about computer science in fun workshops, explore career opportunities, and take a campus tour and experience what it’s like to be a computer science student in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois.

The CS @ ILLINOIS Sail event is held each April, and information will be posted on the CS Outreach Calendar. You can also email questions to cs-outreach@illinois.edu.

NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology) Aspirations in Computing Program

CS @ ILLINOIS established the Central Illinois Affiliate of the NCWIT's Aspirations in Computing. This program is a talent pipeline initiative to increase women’s meaningful participation in computing careers by providing encouragement, visibility, community, leadership opportunities, scholarships, and internships to high potential technically inclined young women. Applications for the NCWIT Aspirations Program open each September 1, and the recipients are recognized each April in conjunction with our CS @ ILLINOIS Sail event. Information will be posted on the CS Outreach Calendar. You can also email questions to cs-outreach@illinois.edu.

4-H Computer Connections

By partnering with 4-H (4h.extension.illinois.edu), CS @ ILLINOIS reaches 1,000 middle school-age students statewide with easy-to-use computer programming modules based on the Scratch online programming environment.