The ITI Summer of CS: Cultivating Creativity, Innovation, & Curiosity Remotely

The ITI Summer of CS: Cultivating Creativity, Innovation, & Curiosity Remotely

by Dr. Vanessa Monterosa

ITI Summer of CS BadgeCOVID-19 has presented numerous challenges to teaching and learning. Educators anticipated these challenges would be further exacerbated during the summer given less opportunities to connect and collaborate. However, the Instructional Technology Initiative (ITI) remained hopeful and steadfast in their mission to continue expanding computer science (CS) education, even if it meant to the homes of students and families across L.A. Unified.

From June 24 to July 22, the ITI Summer of CS program was offered to over 5,000 students. Over 80 teachers answered the call to action to serve as CS educators, offering more than 220 sessions of 5 courses. For example, students who enrolled in “Building Creative Confidence with LEGO Bricks,” they received a set of LEGO bricks delivered straight to their homes to engage in creative constructing.  Session experiences ranged from simple machine learning to game-based learning. The table below outlines all the CS learning opportunities offered to students this past summer: 


Exploring Computer Science Fundamentals with Students explored basic computer science concepts and practiced digital citizenship skills while creating interactive games, designing digital stories and creating collaborative projects.
Code with Me: Scratch Jr. CS First Grade K-2 students engaged on Scratch Jr., which is a programming language and an online community where children can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation with people from all over the world. Grade 3-8 students were introduced to computer science programming through Google CS First, exploring computer science concepts aligned to their passions through interactive storytelling, art, and game design.
Spark Your Creativity through Game Based Learning with Minecraft Education Edition Students were introduced to Minecraft: Education Edition, a game-based learning platform that builds C+STEM skills, unleashes creativity and engages students in collaboration and problem-solving.
Building Creative Confidence with LEGO Bricks Students were creatively inspired as they developed their fine motor skills while constructing with a LEGO brick set, using building cards to create all sorts of life-like or imaginary figures, objects and buildings.
Discovering Real-World STEAM Concepts with LEGO Simple Machines Students engaged in investigating and understanding the operation of simple and compound machines found in everyday life.


ITI Summer of CS Badge

The ITI Summer of CS program concluded with a special all-day celebration on Facebook Live, where each teacher tuned in with their Zoom class of students to honor highlighted student projects and engage in a Code.Org dance party. A special treat during the all-day celebration was a personal message from Code.Org founder, Hadi Partovi, expressing his appreciation for L.A. Unified’s tireless efforts to help children be creative, innovative, and curious even if we are remote.

ITI’s mission is to expand computer science education for all students to ensure access, equity, and opportunity District-wide. The District is committed to providing computer science education for all students by 2025, ensuring every student:

  • Receives 20 hours of computer science instruction each year from Pre-kindergarten to 5th grade
  • Completes at least one rigorous and relevant computer science course in grades 6-8
  • Has access to a computer science pathway in grades 9-12

The commitment to this mission is what paved the way for the ITI Summer of CS that inspired children across Los Angeles to dream big despite our current circumstances. The ITI Summer of CS was made possible by our ITI support staff, brave CS educators, and robust partnerships with key CS organizations, such as Scratch, Google for Education CS First, LEGO Education, Code.Org, and Microsoft Minecraft Education.

To explore the creative strategies implemented by our ITI Summer of CS educators, please visit

To explore student projects created during the ITI Summer of CS, please visit