Project GUTS-Growing Up Thinking Scientifically is an afterschool program for middle school students designed to introduce computer programming and computational thinking skills. Students get an in-depth look at complex systems, models and simulation, and learn to create computer models from scratch. Students engage in problem solving and mathematical thinking at each club meeting. Project GUTS helps students prepare for exciting careers in science, technology, and engineering by developing their computer skills and giving them access to the latest technology. Weekly meetings focus on real world problems that explores through hands-on activities, computer models, and analyze the data that they generate. Each semester, teachers attend professional development to learn the new theme and refresh their programming skills.
The 2014-2015 school year theme was “Shared Resources.” Student discussed climate change: what it means, what the difference is between climate and weather, and evidence of climate change. Some of the simulations students created are greenhouse effect, water runoff, and mountain snow melt. The Shared Resources unit is paired with hands-on activities, which support the concepts. At the end of each unit, students present their work, compare their models, and share their findings at Roundtables that bring together Project GUTS club members from participating school districts within the southern region of New Mexico.