Teacher at STEM Middle Academy, Springfield, MA
West Springfield, Massachusetts, USA /
🎓 Black/African American
😁 Alva enjoys immersing her family in STEM projects during their free time.
Alva empowers students to engage in a deep understanding of computer science by providing an avenue for self-expression and artistic development through music composition.
ABOUT HER WORK
By incorporating EarSketch into their curriculum, the Springfield Public Schools' Title 1 district has significantly contributed to computer science education, thanks to the efforts of a committed middle school computer science educator, Alva Laster. By introducing computer science through music production, she has created an innovative and engaging learning environment that resonates with her middle school students. Through EarSketch, Laster has empowered students to explore coding concepts while expressing their creativity through music composition. This approach fosters a deep understanding of computer science and provides an avenue for self-expression and artistic development. Furthermore, her commitment to ensuring equitable access to technology and resources in the Title 1 district has helped bridge the digital.
WATCH & DISCUSS
Watch: Alva Laster's Keynote
What are ways you can use music and storytelling in computing science?
ADVICE TO YOUNGER SELF
Alva first learned computer science after high school.
“If I could advise my younger self about computer science, I would emphasize the importance of starting early and practicing regularly to build a solid foundation in computer science. Making mistakes and facing challenges is a natural part of the learning process, and one should embrace them as opportunities for growth.”
HOW HAS ALVA'S WORK CONTRIBUTED TO OR HARNESSED COMPUTER SCIENCE'S GOOD, NEUTRAL, AND NEGATIVE IMPACTS?
Ethical or Moral Impacts of Computing: “Ethical dilemmas in computing education encompass various challenges, including bridging the digital divide and ensuring equal access to technology for all students. Protecting students' privacy and data security in digital learning environments, along with addressing issues like cyberbullying and promoting responsible digital behavior, is vital. Teachers face ethical decisions regarding content filtering, the risk of technology addiction, and the potential job displacement due to the automation skills they impart. Managing these dilemmas requires continuous reflection, professional development, and a commitment to instilling responsible and ethical technology practices in students.”
Good: Alva's work as a computer science educator demonstrates the positive impacts of computing on education. Through projects like the EarSketch "Your Voice Is Power," she empowers students to integrate coding with music production and address social issues creatively. This approach not only fosters technical skills but also highlights the broader societal contributions of computer science. Alva's work instills social responsibility, artistic expression, and technical proficiency in her students, preparing them to use computing as a force for positive change.
Neutral: The expansion of computing technology has fundamentally transformed society, offering numerous career opportunities. Computer science education is increasingly relevant and in demand, but the rapid pace of technological advancement necessitates continuous learning. Challenges include the cost of staying up-to-date with evolving tools and addressing the digital divide, where disparities in access to technology persist in some communities. Computer science educators play a vital role in preparing students for a changing technological landscape while addressing issues of equity and accessibility.
Negative: Computing in education can have negative impacts, including widening the digital divide and potential disadvantages for students without access to technology. Overemphasizing technology may sideline traditional artistic skills, and privacy and security concerns, such as data.