About knorth

In 2011 Karen North was 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 sponsored the recycling club at her school and is chair of the education committee for Keep Houston Beautiful. Retired now still advocating for outdoor and computer science education. See her home site www.build-a-brain.com for her on going advocacy.


As I was walking Miss (Mistake) Bella I realized I needed to focus.  Multi-taking is not working.  When I was not watching she peed on her lease.  When I got home her new name was Amazing Bella as she walked and listened so good.  I ran into a neighbor who has been collaborating with me on computer science education in Spring Branch ISD for years, and Bella sat and waited patiently as I ran my mouth.  I shared SBISD was working a district strategic plan and asked if she wanted to go with me to meet with the community outreach coordinator.  Alas, she is swamped with her 4 kids and Odyssey of the Minds and said this summer maybe we can get back advocacy work. I shared an observation I made on the construction of a house close to her.  They put in a single gate to their backyard and I regret not suggesting they put in a double-wide, as this was a mistake I made on my house.

I fear school choice is a mistake that needs to be addressed before it is too late.  All schools need to create a home-schooling atmosphere with maker-space time.  And community service needs to be required for graduation.  As I am reviewing problems our 156 Houston area Aspirations applicants want to solve, I know these students are the solution we are looking for.  That and all the other young adults who see problems and want to help, if only they had the time.  About half the students wanted to solve Social or Health problems.  The other half were concerned with education, Environmental, Engineering, Economic and Cyber Security issues. Very few were interested in energy or politics. We need small talk time in every classroom for students to brainstorm.

There is too much I want to say and blogging in circles.  So if you see an action items you can implement to change the school system, please leave a comment.  Or better yet walk in to the closest school and volunteer to mentor a teacher. One thing I know is Together is Better.  The action lies with the teachers. That is my focus, helping teachers teach.  At least those who have the time to ask for help.  So that moves my focus to monitoring educational laws. And speaking up when I know as a 25 year classroom teacher, and still volunteering in the classroom, policy makers just don’t get it.

So back to my focus areas.  “They” say if you write it down more likely to happen.

  1. My family:  Sons who are both teachers, one of HS math and other college music. My daughter, a mother and school volunteer.  Grandchildren, 16, 13, 10, 4 years old. … Education.
  2. Health:  Cooking, gardening, exercising  … “green” solutions.
  3. Do what brings me joylearning, writing, creating, time with friends.

Inspirational videos that have solutions to inspire:

And History that needs to be heard:



My greatest curiosity is YOU. 
Young … Old … Unique
The Young and the Old.


Creative Play does not happen in 2D and that includes worksheets. Play is required to build curiosity. Watch James Taylor’s story and think of his sun. 2-02-2020 CBS Sunday Morning. Look at how all the animals get along on their Moment in Nature. Let’s all Plant a Seed of Kindness.

Book by Kadir Nelson

Increasing Women in CS

 2020 SCRIPT Symposium hosted by
University of North Texas Department of Computer Science & Engineering

Breakout Discussion on Increasing Women in CS

WHY? WHAT? HOW? – Where do you want to start?
Knowledge is answers to questions – Quintilian


Lessons / Ideas:

More thoughts:

  • Scale the networking – best part listening to other passionate educators.  Looking forward to seeing their stories.  Hope to see action partnerships with NCWIT, Code.org, CSTA and the ISTE CSN as we all have similar goals.

Creative Play does not happen in 2D and that includes worksheets.  Play is required to build curiosity. Watch James Taylor’s story and think of his sun. 2-02-2020 CBS Sunday Morning.  Look at how all the animals get along on their Moment in Nature. Let’s all Plant a Seed of Kindness.

Happy Hour of Code

CS for Good is the 2019 theme.

Let’s celebrate the power of youth like Time’s Person of the year Greta Thunberg.  Let’s celebrate the power of computer science by giving all students the tools of digital communication, data science, and building their passion projects.  Lets provide time during the school day for students to discuss history and learn about the biology of our best and worst selves.

Start by watching this – understand the past and community spaces.


Learn about the impact of AI on You – amazing videos:

  • Machine Learning: Computers make decision by recognizing patterns – learn through experience with data. First get the knowledge then get the power.
  • Training data and bias: Where does training data come from? – what if only men provide the input?  Up to you to give your machine unbiased data from lots of sources.  The data is the code.
  • Impact on Society: How do you grow food? How do you stay healthy? How do you decide who to vote for?  Most important part of machine learning is human learning.  Learning how to use it for good.

Learn what CS for Good community volunteers are doing in Houston:

  • Fresh Hub Houston – We need to find solutions to our local problems by using technology like Aspirations winners Shirley and Annie Zhu with other Houston ISD Bellaire HS students.


There is an opportunity Gap – how to close it. 

The Joy of Cooking

Oh, what a Recipe for Success.  All on CBS Sunday Morning this November 10th, 2019

What are you going to do this week?

What is your teacher going to do to this week inspire Joy in Learning.


Schools could learn from COSTCO

Efficient, effective and only serves the very BEST!

I can’t go into Costco without trying and buying something new.  In the story about Costco they demonstrate research that goes into all products they sell.  One of the important selling points for me is their restroom. It has a long sink with the soap inside and is constantly maintained.  They apply the systems model with a focus on quality control and feedback to improve customer service.

I stopped at Costco on the way home from tutoring 2nd grades as part of my church’s HUGS program.  So this process was on my mind.  I can’t help myself as debugging is ingrained in my brain as a result of teaching computing science for decades.  The Bee-Bot represents quality control every step of the way.  I read my mentee “Miss Money Honey”.  I want to her excitement by reading this book to all the 2nd graders at this low-income school.  This book was written by a neighbor who became a friend through our three-year-old granddaughters.  That is the feedback loop that is talked about in the talk that TED picked out for me today (the power of AI).



“At least the words were said …” Elon Musk attends meetings that ask for opinions.  Oh my, if only that happened in schools.  My grandson posted on his blog site he is bored in school.  But on his first post he wanted to be a scientist.  What happened?  Schools do not build on dreams and aspirations of their clients, they test them to death.  They don’t give learners time to share their opinions. Elon askes “What do you love about the future?” in his TED talk that AI picked for me today. I sent this to our Houston Aspirations applicants as they are the future changers.

If you have a dream of building future cities, share that idea. Elon started “The Boring Company” – beginning as a hobby employed by mostly interns. You can be that intern. Since CS is now part of CTE high schools have funding to help you find internships. Our Houston Aspirations team wants to help you too. The first step is to share what problem you want to solve and how technology can help solve it.

In fact, that is the only way to solve problems today.  “Technology only improves if we have a lot of people working together. – So I ask Elon, you have amazing solutions. You are a fixer. What can you do about improving the input to the future? Our children …

What is the biggest problem facing this century? – The Mind Behind …

Hiking – Together is Better

That is our AAUW Hiking Hunnies team!!

Grayson and Emory, where are you?  Your 2016 monarch butterfly habitat is empty.  Thanks for my hiking friends who collected leaves for me, my 3 year old granddaughter added to her dot pictures.  If only creating collections of leaves was part of our report card for schools, we might have more nature adventures.

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.

Building strong communities block by block. Fixes: Building for Real With Digital Blocks. To improve community structures with citizens’ input, the United Nations uses a computer game inspired by Lego. Read to see how Minecraft is used by city planners.

Houston , yes “We have a problem” but we are working together to make it better.