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.

Problem Fixers

Problem Fixers are our NCWIT Aspirations Community.



Off the Beaten Path … Inspiration Struck.  Let’s use what we have. Reunite People.  Just a dream after 6 years dealing with politics actually build it.  Others thought it was a dumb idea. Volunteers labor built it.

In my neighborhood in West Houston the Woods Project was started at Spring Woods High School.  A dear AAUW WISE friend went with a group of these students on a wilderness trip and continues to support this and outdoor challenges.  Ryan Beeler an environmental teacher enhanced his passion projects with Shared Tables to help prevent wasting and food.  This teacher is a champion, along with Alice Fisher at Bellaire High School who students started FreshHubHouston. Thank you Kinder for supporting the work of these problem fixers.

WHY Apply 4 Aspirations Award


Challenges makes life interesting.

Computing Skills Are Essential

Computing and computational thinking are increasingly important 21st-century skills. These skills lead the way for innovative solutions to long-standing problems at national and local levels. Technology increasingly permeates every aspect of society.

  1. Why Apply – because Together is Better!!
  2. We need to build a diverse population of computers.
  3. We need to find our Hidden Figures and Rosies.
  4. We need to find solutions to our local problems by using technology like Aspirations winners Shirley and Annie Zhu . With other Bellaire HS students they created Fresh Hub Houston.


HOW – Learn and Plan Together

The WHO – You + These Communities

Thank you RUSMP for sharing this at your Networking Conference!

These photos don’t tell the whole story, but hopefully will start you thinking about what you can do.  This is what I captured, but Rosie Anne Papakonstantinou will add more to the story on the RUSMP website.

My take-a ways:

  • Dr. Richard Tapia
    • “One step forward will get you to good places.” That is decompose, something computer science teaches.  Break down problems into smaller parts.  If the challenge is too big, break it down again until you can write a procedure to achieve your goal.
    • “Needed UCLA to be prepared for Rice.”  Went to a Sequin school and worked hard.  Persevered after a life of rejection.
    • Learned to love math because was good at it.
    • Can’t be confident without success. (This is game theory)
  • Edward Gonzalez, Exxon on the STEM professional panel – “Evaluate data to make pricing more efficient.” – That is data science.  Something CS teaches.  See Bootstrapworld for free curriculum for students to learn about this world. Something all teachers need to learn, especially social studies and environmental science teachers.
  • Sandra Coleman, BHP Lawyer and Finance expert – Get parents involved … had dyslexia yet survived and thrived thanks to her parents.”
  • STEM Student panel –
    • “Learn how to learn things, use resources to figure out how.
    • Teachers who care and encourage you to keep trying are essential. (Please send encouraging note to a HS girl.)
    • Giving students small wins.  Research projects that build positive results.
    • Less time on board better!!! Interacting and hands-on lessons are what creates learning.
  • Ellis Wyms – bonus presenter invited by Debbie Campbell, RUSMP Code.org project manager.  He shared about his passion that turned to action to inspire athletes to learn about computer science. I shared about my passion for CSforAll, but more than that, my goal to make this a priority in the allotment of time in the classroom.  Reporter Pete Hamill in the CBS October 2019 special brought back the need for classroom reporters, those students who tell the truth. Young Verse message from his Fish in a Tank video is an inspiration to both of us. I discovered with the teachers in this conference we need to do more to spread the word about NCWIT.  And that students can be aspirations.org reporters from the classroom. Please help find one high school student and encourage her to share her passion.

Located in our Herman Park Rose Garden across the street from Rice – a pathway worth taking.

Remembering 9/11

As I remember 9/11 I wanted to use this to communicate a small step you can do today to bring change.  Below is an email I am sending my friends and connectors.  If we all did the same thing, maybe we can move forward to peace in this world.  Please share! As the student you find might be the innovator we need for our future.

On this 18th anniversary of 9/11 will you help spread the word so together we can build our community of problem solvers ?  Please find one high school girl who has a vision and invite her to apply for the Aspirations award.  Fill out the simple form at https://www.aspirations.org/content/encourage-student.  Make her feel good by giving her value.  And let me know if you invite her and I will let you know if she applies.  Will give you joy too.

How would you use technology to bring peace to this world? What problem do you want to solve is a question on the NCWIT aspirations.org awards. By applying for this award, students can share their solution and brainstorm with other young women who aspire to solve the same challenge.  And that challenge can be local to bring a spirit of giving and being nice to your community. It is using computer science to prevent problems through data science. It is preventing the need for cyber security.

Teachers, please make this a warmup journaling prompt, so when it comes time to submit the application, the hard part, the short essay is written.  Our students can be the leaders of learning.

Thank you,
Karen North, Houston Aspirations.org Co-Coordinator

Aspirations in Art&CS

Houston Chronicle Editorial September 7, 2019  – submitted this viewpoint after reading the editorial about Sally the Salad vending machine and on the same page the opinion by Deborah Lugo, John Abodeely and Cathy Bencivenga.  I have been submitting editorials before it was so easy to post.  But now I keep up with the history as so easy: editorial-thoughts-right-or-wrong/ and hope they get published: knorth.edublogs.org/editorials-published/. Goal is to inspire others to mentor students to build their aspirations, as it is only the young who can make the future better.


“Arts classes important part of complete education” by Arts Connect leaders 9/7/2019 – thank you for this opinion! Providing access does transform schools and our city by giving a chance to express and channel creativity, adaptability and collaboration.  But computer science education also teaches these skills and more. The Houston of tomorrow needs a prepared 21st-century workforce to create more “Sally” machines that solve real problems like easy access to healthy food. Now to get these salad bots into schools. As well as the ability to program the bots. Coding is an art form that plays the same key role as art classes. But coding art is accessible to all, even the blind and those who can’t hold a pencil.

The challenge is time. The solution to bring computer science to all (csforall.org) is to integrate IT into other courses. As a computer science educator, I solved that problem by combining the art of programming with creating graphics.  This art lesson was first presented at an Expanding Your Horizons conference in 1990s.  It continues currently by teaching students to create digital flowers they can share for free. Along with colleagues, I have presented at the Houston Art Partners Conference on creating Mondrian Art. This takes the program design process from Legos, to paper, to digital art using programming languages from beginner to college.  If your art is dance, try coding a robot to do a line dance or have a dance party.

To overcome the equitable access challenge, I volunteer to train anyone interested in learning to code for free, if they sustain and scale this work.  And my best audience is high school girls who have aspirations in computing. One of our aspirations winners from Puerto Rico is creating a comic book for the UH brain research center.  We need artists to be part of our aspirations.org community.  Please join us at the Empowering Latinas in Tech event at UHD as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month where we will have an outreach table.


  1. Examples of how to code art: http://teachertech.rice.edu/Participants/knorth/Scheme/webScheme.html
  2. Create digital flowers: tinyurl.com/digitalflower
  3. Mondrian Art lesson: http://codemathteks.edublogs.org/geometry/mondrian-art/
  4. Code a robot to do a line dance: http://knorth.edublogs.org/learn/maker-space-training-houston-parks/
  5. Dance party: http://knorth.edublogs.org/learn/dance-party-hce/
  6. UH brain research center: http://brain.egr.uh.edu/
  7. NCWIT Aspirations Resources: https://www.aspirations.org/spread-word-about-ncwit-aic-awards
  8. Anita Borg Empowering Latinas Event: https://community.anitab.org/event/empowering-latinas-in-tech/

This opinion was written by Karen North, NCWIT Aspirations Houston Coordinator and White House Champion of Change for Computer Science Education.  She has taught CS, math and business in Fort Bend ISD, Alief ISD and Houston ISD starting in 1985.  Karen was one of the first certified computer science teachers in Texas. She was a writer of the first computer science TEKS and the 2011 update which created 15 CS courses, as well as writer of national CS Standards. See http://knorth.edublogs.org/about/history/ for her history.

WHY? – Only two Houston applicants for the Humans in Space Art Competition – asking “What will we do on the moon?”  I did try to spread the word.  Like I try to spread the word about the aspirations.org award.  HOW can we reach more children?  WHAT support is needed? – see AdolescentBrain for ideas.

BONUS – The Art Data of Happiness – WHY Art Connection?

When you plant a seed

“If you plant a seed” grew to “When you plant a seed”

Book by Kadir Nelson

Victory with Victory Gardens – The ideas abound – here are a few more seeds (TED Talks):

GROWING PROJECTS … want inspiration? See what this inspiring teacher did.

History still growing – hope my posts help plant seeds

As my TED Talk page grows, started organizing around topics.  Food I am thinking is the most important. Missing ingredient is people doers. Champions of Change.

Can the bees help?

From junk to fresh food. What about a “sin” tax to provide the resources for change?

And the bigger question, who is evaluating all the outreach programs that businesses fund? That is what I would like to do as I am tired of planting seeds that don’t grow.  And volunteering in schools to pull the weeds that were not prevented.



We were looking for all the “Thinks you Can Think” as went to see Suessical the Musical at Miller Outdoor theatre. My favorite book I read to my students even in high school. Instead my 3 year old granddaughter took the book “The Imagineering Way – Ideas to Ignite your Creativity”.  I bought this in 2004 when I presented at the AP CS conference on Programming with Graphics. That led to re-discovering Figment.

My granddaughter made me leave her photo upside down, cute.  She is making music now with her animal’s tail, a temporary Figment, which she just called, a good dinosaur.  Such creativity.  If only this could be her life in the classroom K-12; connecting the dots with creative conversation. She just told me I have to look at what she is doing.  She told me to turn my face to see him do a head stand. I said I have to think, as someone mentioned to me they liked Disney.  I remembered.  It was yesterday at the University of Houston where I went to see a student I am mentoring who earned an internship at the Brain Research center.  She is creating a comic book.  So many connections; just need to turn the dots into collaborative creative action.

May be a figment of my imagination, but I think SBISD and I are going down parallel pathways.  I believe it would be more efficient and effective if were going together.  Maybe then we could take a giant leap.

Believe in Tomorrow





The First Step

We did it!  … You can do IT! … I did IT!!

To the Moon! A chronicle of mankind’s greatest adventure

STEP ideas:

When You Plant a Seed

History still growing …

... to grow the love of a hard day's work!!!

To walk across the Mississippi River … and navigate the sharp bends.
… No matter the rules, give way.

Analyzing disasters for the future.  There is only so much we can do.
… 90 days to make a wish come true! -> changing our classrooms.

Finding a new life …

Bringing back the love of a hard day’s work in the classroom.  The joy of success no matter the job.  That is what we need to inspire in our young children. Give teacher’s the freedom to do this. As those in the classroom who plant the seeds are the only ones who can. And those who make the rules need to walk in this river and be a real live partner in change.

You can plant the seed! and be a Rosie!!

“It is a season 4 strategy” –  My grandson’s who I signed up for the Game Builder’s class at Code Ninja’s.  Kade asked, “Same people as at the Mindcraft class?”…  “Yes!  Those people were amazing.”  Said while they were playing Fortnite as multi-taking way to get them to talk and listen to their conversation. “Do you want to do dance therapy now?”

… and Join the Dance Revolution!!!

Houston, We have a problem …  But we can solve with Bridgette’s STEAM education: abc13.com/community-events/twin-neil-armstrong-statues-will-link-houston-and-russia

United in Space – United …

Will Sunflowers grow in your space?

Shedding light before it is too late.


2019 WeTeachCS Summit



WeTeachCS Summit Schedule

Building the Computational Mindset in STEM Education
To scale Computer Science For All

To integrate the foundational CS skills of pattern recognition, decomposition, abstraction and algorithms and the computational thinking dispositions/practices in K-12.  Are you finding roadblocks to scale CS for All? How do you promote STEM integrated thinking through CT/CS? Do other teachers help build the mindset to prepare students; try coding and creating apps? You will be given the opportunity to brainstorm solutions to your unique classroom, school or district. Together is better in dealing with the politics of CS Education!

What story do you want to tell?

  • NetworkingCREATE on post-it pads (10 minutes)
  1. What brings you joy?  What brings a smile to your heart?
  2. How can you connect that to CT/ CS Education?
    • Introductions(10 minutes)
      • Joe Kmoch,   joe @ jkmoch.com
      • Karen North,  knorth @ wt.net
      • John Owen,  johnbowen @ utexas.edu
      • Sylvia Wood, sgwood01@gmail.com
  • Together is Better Panel – Brainstorming Discussion (30 minutes)
  1. What are the barriers, the roadblocks to making that happen?
  2. What is the first action item on your pathway?
  3. How can we work together to make it happen for you?
  • Connect ideas – on post-it pad, twitter @TedE4CS, email (10 minutes)
    • Who did you meet that you can continue the conversation with?
    • Administrators – What do you think teachers need to feel joy?
    • Does testing bring joy?

To be a one-legged purple gorilla

TEA Statewide WBL and STEM Listening Tour

  1. Current activities: What WBL and STEM activities does your school currently offer for you and your child?
  2. Wish list: What kinds of WBL and STEM activities would you be interested in our school offering?
  3. Barriers: What barriers keep your child from participating in these types of STEM and WBL activities?
  4. Support: What information and support do you need to help our child be prepared for whatever career field they are interest in?
  5. Communication: What is your preferred way of getting information about your child’s educational opportunities?

CS For All

The 2019 CSforALL Summit theme is Systems Change. As the movement matures, we are challenging the community to dig deep and think long term, moving beyond individual efforts to inspire students and prepare educators, to transforming the systems that will ensure that computer science becomes an integral and sustained part of the K-12 experience, both in and out of schools.

What innovative initiatives that leverage existing infrastructure and networks, work with communities to create local ownership, and support community-led, sustainable implementation of computer science education are part of your school system?

It is the Conversations that matter.

So, how do we broaden participation?  nsf.gov/od/broadeningparticipation

My Goal:

To change the system by the time my 3 year old grand-daughter gets to high school.  The high school that I went to where my grandson currently goes.

One of my solution ideas to start the change:

Every child is required to study math PK-12. To decompose the time problem, I would like schools to require 20/20 time in 2020. That is 20 minutes a week for 20 weeks for computer science integration. UPS can track a package across the world.  Multiple choice testing is taking too much time. 21st century accountability could be tracking the apps a student creates K-12.  Posting products of learning student’s create …  “building something just for the joy of building it is something to be proud of ” – Make.