About knorth

Karen North is a 28-year computer science, math, technology systems and business teacher. She is an officer with ISTE SIGCT and is on the CSTA Committee working on K-8 Model Curriculum. She is currently a Technology Specialist at an elementary school in Houston ISD, allowing her the opportunity to put into practice her CS research on the K-5 level. Ms. North began her advocacy for computing in the 1980s programming BASIC, Logo and the T.I. Calculator in math courses. She also sponsors the recycling club at her school and is chair of the education committee for Keep Houston Beautiful.

Memorial Day

Spring Branch ISD Hunters Creek Elementary School Passion Project

Before the Memorial Day weekend, Hunters Creek has planned an event to honor and learn more about the memorials and the people that they commemorate.

These lost teachers and students have touched the lives of so many current and past HCE staff, students, and families.  The HCE Leadership Council, Mrs. Cummings and Mrs. Chvatal have planned a wonderful week of memories that will educate our current students and staff about the lives of these special, missed Cougars. We want all students and faculty to understand what each HCE memorial represents and why these people are so special to HCE.  We will end this sharing of memories with a special ceremony on May 25.

They will honor the following people and their memorials on HCE campus: Robin Woods, HCE teacher; Kelly Sewell, HCE teacher; Nancy Ray, HCE teacher; Alana Harris Greenshaw, HCE student; Sam Schubert, HCE student; and Nicole Lee, HCE student

They will also have a dedication ceremony for a garden that was started and maintained as a source of education by a retired teacher, Mrs. Jeanette Domaschk.  After 43 years of teaching at HCE, she still loves to return to campus to work in the garden when she gets the chance. We will be honoring her service and commitment to HCE that evening as well.

To get ready for that event we had volunteers from AAUW-WHC Garden Divas, Keep Houston Beautiful, Merrill Lynch and RZ Landscaping, as well as HCE teachers and parents. The HCE Garden Club students and sponsors Mrs. Cummings, Mrs. Beinhauer, and Mrs. Thompson planted vegetables and flowers, but the weeds needed to be pulled. Also, the pathways need to be cleaned of weeds and re-paved with decomposed granite.  Thank you to all who gave their time. And to the Kerver Education Foundation who provided the funding along with parents and teacher donations.

Maintained Garden as seen from Google Earth


There are 7 garden areas with pathways in-between.




To get ready for that event we had volunteers from AAUW-WHC Garden Divas, Keep Houston Beautiful, Merrill Lynch and RZ Landscaping, as well as HCE teachers and parents. The HCE Garden Club students and sponsors planted vegetables and flowers, but the weeds needed to be pulled. Also, the pathways need to be cleaned of weeds and re-paved with decomposed granite. Thank you to the 16 volunteers who helped:

  • Project Planning was assisted by my daughter Amy Polidori, who helped numerous days with weeding, volunteer recruitment and donations.  She arranged for my grandson teacher to water the flowers every day. Thank you Kade.  And thank you to my husband Max for numerous trips bringing mulch and tools to HCE.
  • AAUW Garden Divas Pat Farnell and El Divo Mike Farnell helping with weeding and edging pathways.
  • AAUW Garden Diva Loretta Coussirat Pruning and cleaning the hedges.
  • My Landscaper Rene owner of RZ Landscaping & Home Improvement stepped up to help when I was short with helpers. His son, a junior at Yes Prep earned community service points. He was the project manager for two workers and supplied wheelbarrows, roller for the decomposed granite and pruners.  The equipment of professionals made the job much faster and easier.
  • My Financial Planner Stephen Salter whose has been interested in my computational thinking in the garden said he would love to help with this school garden.
  • Garden Club Sponsor Linda Beinhauer and her fiance Andrew. Also assisting with flower planting was HCE Counselor Andrea Chvatal.
  • Parents Marty Collins and Forrest Green
  • Fellow Keep Houston Beautiful commissioner and HCE Dad’s Club president helping on 5/20 with his 3 children.

Design Thinking

The question of whether computers can think is like
the question of whether submarines can swim.

~Edsger W. Dijkstra

I went to 3 robotics competitions / challenges recently:  FIRST Robotics Competition where a Houston area team won, the Ecobot Challenge  and the Bot-Ball Competition in Spring Branch ISD. I met many inspiring teachers volunteering their time to build 21st century skills for our children.

I asked the students what design thinking process did they use in building and coding their robots.  Can your student explain the process they used to solve a problem?  Or are they using Guess and Check experimenting.  The design recipe, the process in solving the problem must be communicated. That is what I am trying to teach. That process must be developed started in elementary school.  How can potential energy be built like Tyrone did in the winning car design from the EcoBot challenge?

My question is whether schools will provide innovative time for student to build computational and design thinking skills. Whether this is in robotics, coding in the arts, or gardening, students must be given the opportunity to build design thinking skills.

An example of an amazing educator doing this is at Memorial High School.“Everyone is an engineer just like everyone is an artist,” said Van Zeelst. … We just need to give students the opportunity to build their inner STEAM”. … We need to build our instruction around our students: vimeo.com/213751590. Spring Branch ISD Superintendent Dr. Muri won an innovate award on behalf of the district. This MHS librarian is one example of what innovators can do. I can’t wait to see design thinking happening in every classroom.


Houston Area STEM Conference

University of Houston Clear Lake

– Decomposition – Abstraction – Pattern Recognition – Algorithms – … Expressing an approach that a computer (human, machine or both) can use to achieve a solution.



  1. Binary Bracelets Warm-up
  2. Why? Inspiration – Fish in a Tank Video
  3. Dancing with the Bees Line Dance Video – Move forward 3 steps, turn right, turn left, turn left, turn right, move back 3 steps.  Repeat 3 times.
  4. Bee-Bot Activities: Play, Control, Movement, Challenge – Program your Bee-Bot to do the same line dance you just did.
  5. Unplugged Lessons: Plant-a-seed
  6. Plugged: Code a Flower
  7. Time? – Feedback Q&A
  8. Computational Thinking – Circle Connections

BEE-BOT ACTIVITIES: codemathteks.edublogs.org/bee-bot
Bee-Bot Activities Using Design Model Document


Texas STEM Conference

CS for All through WeTeachCS.org and CS4TX.org

Bee-Bots Dancing to bring “Computer Science For All” to young learners

Texas STEM ConferenceDallas January 2017
Bee-Bot Presentation Slides and Handouts

Psyche Mission – Finding Hidden Figures … Exploring Spatial Skills

Practice math skills by coding a floor robot with 4 simple commands. Building Connections & Understanding + Real-world Application is a mathematics practice to prepare students to use patterns and relationships. Bee-Bots can help build those connections! Come Dance with the Bees and see how you can use these and other unplugged activities to build computational thinking skills in the lower grades.

People often ask me if I know the secret of success and if I could tell others how to make their dreams come true. My answer is, you do it by working. I suppose my formula might be: dream, diversity – and never miss an angle. – Walt Disney “The Quotable … it was all started by a mouse.”

Activities on codemathTEKS to give you 90 degrees angles to build diversity and dreams in your classroom.

Fish in a Tank Video by Young Verse
– If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree …

Bee-Bots Dancing to Bring CS For All

Music – Art – Dancing Lessons

  1. Dancing with the Bees 2007
  2. Robotic Spelling BeeI Love CS Fun.
  3. Bees Need Flowers – Plant a Seed Unplugged
  4. Unplugged Code.org Happy Mats and Move IT, Move IT
  5. Plugged Code.org Bee Sequence
  6. Free Bee-Bot App on I-Tunes
  7. Lot of ideas on the Turtle Talk Logo Newsletter
  8. Learn More: Spring Branch ISD Bee-Bots PD

 Bee-Bot Activities Using Design Model

Part of doing good research is sharing what you have learned with other scientists. That is how science progressesIt was two lovable Hollywood stars (R2D2 and C3PO) that served as enduring and endearing AI inspirations for Cindy. It was HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey that inspired her mentor, Rodney Brooks, to study artificial intelligence (AI). “Robo World – the story of robot Designer Cynthia Breazeal by Jordan D. Brown 2005

It is YOU who can inspire the next Designer.

Decompose Time – Kids need baby steps!
Give time for Brain Breaks – Go Noodle

WTCS PD Overview


MLK Day and Hidden Figures

Freedom is earned through education. You are a slave to your own ignorance. Computer Science education is a path to freedom, and it is free. We must build on where we agree, and stop tearing down those we don’t agree with. Instead of saying red or blue is better, lets make purple.

In “Hidden Figures” the computers did not destroy their community, they found solutions while following the unfair rules. They did not ask others for help, they were proactive leaders. They taught themselves to program the new IBM computer at NASA, as they knew their jobs were coming to an end.

When the rules were changed to prevent a colored from being an engineer, a computer went to court and legally had a waiver passed so she could get her advanced degree.

When the rules of using a colored restroom caused a loss of work time, the boss knocked down the sign and said from now on there will be no separation. What a powerful message to honor the memory of MLK.

We all need to find those “Hidden Figures” in our community, and introduce them to coding, as it is a way out of poverty.  Please join CS4TX.org and be a Code Buddy so we can bring CS For All to every community.  Please build the aspirations of young women in computing.  NCWIT aspirations.org is making a scene and you can be part.

Hidden Figures” brings to light the stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson — three Black women mathematicians who charted the course that launched Astronaut John Glenn into orbit during the Space Race in the 1950s. Gee, 2017 and we have not yet achieved equity in computing even after decades of advocating. In 2015, only three percent of the computing workforce were Black women. But, with inspiration and change-leading work, we can narrow the gap for women in tech by building a community of divergent thinkers and change agents.

A computer is not just a machine, it is also a person who computes.  I too was learning FORTRAN back in the 1960’s and remember the keypunch cards and perseverance it took to be successful. That is the message we need to give our children.  Spend your time learning.

People often ask me if I know the secret of success and if I could tell others how to make their dreams come true. My answer is, you do it by working. I suppose my formula might be: dream, diversity – and never miss an angle. – Walt Disney “The Quotable … it was all started by a mouse.”

Adding this after all the women’s marches across the world. For those sending a positive message, thank you. But for the many who were negative role models I would not want my grand-daughter to see, I ask please stop it.  Please march into a classroom, a school, and make sure all girls have an equal opportunity to learn the 21st academic skills found in computer science.  Build the mindset for computational thinking leadership.

The Houston Chronicle published an editorial about “Hidden Figures” where I shared the need for volunteers.  Teachers need help to build the minds for our future.

Hour of Code Buddy Training

What is Coding?

  1. Welcome and Thank you. What is your goal today?
  2. Binary Bracelets – Make a set for your mentee.
  3. What is the Hour of Code?
  4. What activities are available?
  5. Unplugged Lessons
    1. Plant-a-Seed
    2. Bee-Bots
  6. Code.org Puzzles
  7. How do I find a school to help?

CS 4 TxCS 4 All


My Inspiration is those who learn – at end when mentors were introducing themselves and their goal (I forgot to do at the start) – one person said I get that coding is really about problem solving.  I gave him a high-five. Others shared that this can help build self-esteem and confidence, which is a major problem with their mentees.


“B” Better


City of Houston District “B” Conference for Middle School Students
MAKING IT BETTERCouncilman Davis
George Brown Conference Center 11/29

What impact does Internet have on you?
Robotics will be bigger than Internet.
Those with power learn to control the robots.
Computers Control the World.
But, who controls the computers? Computer Scientists!



Watch Black Girls Code and See Prince’s Yes We Code

And Make your Goal with Chris Bosh

Every High School in Texas is required to offer two years of computer science. But, to be prepared YOU need to be pro-active and not wait for a teacher.  Learning to CODE is free and online, YOU just need to add the time.  Go to code.org or Khan Academy to get started.  Ask your principal to implement an Hour of Code next week during CS Ed Week.

“Robots may become as common as whisks” – Food Made with Love by Robots

We need ARTISANAL classrooms!!

Hour of Code Training

Spring Branch ISD is hosting an outreach lunch and training for volunteers on Wednesday, Nov 30th at the SBISD Technology Training Center in collaboration with AAUW-WHC Expanding Your Horizons Team. This training, in preparation of the upcoming Hour of Code, will lead participants through the concepts of computer science and provide hands-on “plugged” and “un-plugged” activities to do with students ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade. A light lunch will be served.

Spring Branch educators are committed to facilitate Hour of Code activities for students!
Find a School that needs a Code Buddy.
See Hour of Code events on Twitter! #SBHourof Code

Help us give every student the opportunity to learn computer science by learning what you can do to support a teacher! We need code buddies to help our schools. To register as a Code Buddy and SBISD volunteer go to this link.

Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek Dec. 5-11) is an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science. Code.org now organizes CSEdWeek as a grassroots campaign supported by 350 partners and 100,000 educators worldwide. The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching over 100 million students in more than 180 countries.

To reach all students in Houston we invite the mayor, all City Council members, and staff to go into a school in their district and join students for one hour.  The best way to learn the power of computing is hands-on with young children. Like President Obama learned by coding with kids and was inspired to create the CS FOR ALL.

Computer Science Education Week
WHEREAS every child in Texas should learn computer science; and,

WHEREAS the Texas Alliance for Computer Science Education (TACSE) is leading a grassroots statewide effort to educate all Texans about the value of K-12 computer science education; and,

WHEREAS only 2% of Texas high school graduates have taken a computer science course and only 5,172 high school students in Texas took the AP Computer Science exam in 2015; only 24% were female; only 987 were Hispanic; only 180 were black; and,

WHEREAS Schools are lagging behind parent demand; 9 in 10 parents want their students to learn computer science… but only 1 in 4 schools teach it; and,

WHEREAS, in a world increasingly dependent on technology, computer science is crucial for every student; and,

WHEREAS, each year, Computer Science Education Week is celebrated in December in observance of Grace Murray Hopper, a major female contributor to computer science, and to call attention to the need for improving and strengthening computer science education. During the week of December 5-2011, 2016 CS4TX Houston will support an Hour of Code as WHEREAS, the City of Houston is a strong supporter of STEM initiatives and commends the Computer Science for Texas and supporting organizations and businesses for its leadership in STEM Education.

THEREFORE, I, Silvester Turner, Mayor of the City of Houston, hereby proclaim December 5-11, 2016, COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION WEEK.

Code Math TEKS

Fort Bend P-16 Math Summit October 29th

GREG TANG KEYNOTE – Major Economics – Minor Computer Science
“We would be better off if we taught coding instead of math in schools.”

It’s about the PROCESS … It’s about the PRACTICE … It’s about the PLAN …
It’s about YOU!

Knowledge is answers to questions!!!
How can coding (CS and CT) enhance one of your daily math lessons?


  1. Warmup:  Binary Bracelets
    1. Color Theme –Hex Codes for MBL Teams
      1. World Series and Cleveland (This is where my father is from).
  2. Fold-a-book – Real Life Algorithms and Planning Process
  3. If You Plant-a-Seed – Ideas that you grow
    1. Math TEKS Coorelation
    2. CAMT
  4. Walk-the-Line
    1. Line Dance and Getting Loopy
    2. Geometry
  5. Circles and Connecting the Dots

Want to learn more?

  1. Rice University RUSMP
  2. Code.org FREE PD
  3. University of Texas WeTeachCS
  4. Bootstrap – Algebra Integration
  5. Computer Science for Texas CS4TX.org Meetups
  6. Google – Computational Thinking
  7. Greg Tang – Keynote for 3 hours at Fort Bend P16 conference
    1. Wants kids to think about numbers – using number bonds over years
      1. CS Connection – just break apart – Apples in a barrel example – 108 / 9 part, part, whole.  Sees the pattern – groups.
      2. CS Connection – explain the process – write and code the algorithm
    2. Efficiency matters – takes deeper understanding
    3. Meta-cognition – visual images – kids need to think deeply
    4. Kids like to figure – can do this with reasoning puzzles if practice everyday.  Think in a systematic way. Example used Consecutive digit problem.
        • Can you come up with a formula? In CS we call this an abstraction.
    5. Number lines and paper folding – Cuisenaire rods. Use rectangles instead of lines. Build vocabulary connections: Perimeter Peri (around) Meter (measure).
    6. Fraction example divide up a cookie.  Notation is problem, want 1/2 or 1/4?
    7. Equal sign – everything is a comparison. Wanted his kids to be comfortable with math as they were going to school for hockey. What two numbers add up to 20, but have a difference of 4?
    8. Key is PRACTICE – does that with books and puzzles. Sees groups – look for 10s. Use Dice. Did Scope and Sequence with cross-word and snake puzzles that are self-checking. Turning into board games so have F2F interaction.
    9. Most his books are over a decade old so enhancing with online puzzles. Can your kid write an app bringing concepts into the digital age? Works with districts to streamline. Greg’s “background is economics not teaching.” My background is teaching. I can help educators for free as code.org raises the funds to deal with equity for CS for All.