The Rubber Duck Wants You

on the PSCSTA Board of Directors

Are you passionate about CS education and want to make a difference? Consider serving on the PSCSTA Board!  The mission of the Puget Sound Computer Science Teachers Association (PSCSTA) is:

Provide community, professional development, support, and advocacy for computer science teachers throughout Washington and help them provide equitable, high-quality CS education to all K-12 Washington students.

We know it’s only April, but PSCSTA board elections are just around the corner. This year the available positions are: Vice-President, Treasurer, and at-large member(s).  Each board member serves a two-year term. Vice President and Treasurer only require 4-5 hours a month.  The time commitment for at-large members varies by the activities they choose. The Vice President position will not have an incumbent officer running, and we can elect more than one at-large member, depending on interest.   

Nominate yourself or others here:

We are particularly interested in increasing the number of board members who identify as K-8 educators and those who live outside the central Puget Sound region. Because K-8 CS education is spotlighted in SB5849, we seek to expand our K-8 efforts. While PSCSTA's origins are in the Puget Sound region, we are dedicated to supporting CS teachers throughout Washington. 

You can find out more about each position in the Operations Manual. And visit to the activities we support as Board members.

Please contact with any questions.


May 2024 Issue

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STEP CS Lightning Talks
What are you doing May 23rd? Better block off 6:00-8:00 pm now for this years STEP CS Lighting Talks. This FREE event will include an unconference and networking for teachers to get connected on the beautiful Bill and Melinda Gates Center on the UW campus. Dinner will also be provided.
This lightning talks event will take place both virtually and in-person. To learn more and register visit the STEP CS Lightning talks event page.
Event Image
Even with the warmer weather, why do Computer Science Teachers still avoid the outdoors?

Because there are too many bugs... 
Spring in Washington state with computer science teachers animated . Image 4 of 4
Physical Computing Workshop w/ Post-Workshop Eastside Meetup
Chad Norman and Jacqueline Russell will be facilitating the 2024 Physical Computing Workshop on May 4th from 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM on the Microsoft Redmond Campus. This is a hands-on, beginner friendly workshop where educators will explore physical computing.
Event Image
Educators in grades 1-5 will explore micro:bit while grades 6-8 will explore Arduino. Four Washington state STEM clock hours are also available. Kits, lunch, snacks, and beverages are also included.
Registration is open until noon on May 3rd. Registration is $32 for non-members, $12 for members, and can be done on the 2024 Physical Computing Workshop event page.  Make sure you've signed up for your free PSCSTA membership before registering.
Please also join us for an informal meetup for chapter members on May 4 from 3 pm - 5 pm at the Woodblock in Redmond. This meetup is open to all members (and prospective members) even if you can't attend the Physical Computing Workshop.

We want to see your

Rubber Ducks!!

We want to see your cool PSCSTA rubber ducks! If you've attended a PSCSTA event in the past odds are you've crossed paths with the infamous PSCSTA rubber duck. Though cute these rubber ducks hold a historic past.

In fact, starting in the 1990's the "rubber ducky technique" became a popular debugging technique used by many programmers around the world. With this technique a programmer would talk through their code aloud to a rubber duck with the goal to find their codes error. 

Sometimes all it takes is talking aloud to someone (Or better yet something! Like a rubber duck!) to come up with an answer yourself and we want to see your supportive rubber ducks.

If you've got a rubber duck send us a picture of it! Whether it be on your computer, in front of your class, in a cool place, or on top of your pets head. Send them to or DM them to our Instagram or Facebook account to have the chance to be posted on our Social Media Platforms or be in our next months connector!

Your choice:  Pet or Selfie with Rubber Duck.  Tailer Cochran's dog, Chief, and PSCSTA treasurer, Lawrence Tanimoto
Teacher Spotlight: Chad Norman
Chad Norman teaches 4th and 5th grade Math and Science for the Mount Vernon SD Highly Capable magnet program and is one of Mount Vernon SD's Highly Capable program coordinators.  Chad is one of the instructors of PSCSTA's Physical Computing Workshop on May 4 (Sat) at the Microsoft Main Campus in Redmond.  The other instructor is PSCSTA Secretary Jaqueline Russell whose profile is in the CSTA Voice


Mount Vernon School District (6500 students)

Biggest Challenge

Mount Vernon is close enough to Seattle to feel a certain connectedness to its tremendous high-tech industries. But we are also far enough away that students feel quite removed and lack regular physical access to the resources that are available. Many of our Skagit Valley students do not have the opportunities to see the career opportunities within Computer Science and develop the skills needed to pursue those careers. 
What can local CSTA chapter do better?
With the main CSTA chapter in Western Washington being based in the Seattle area, more events could be created to bring CS educators together in Skagit and Whatcom counties.  I also believe that CSTA could create more events that bring students together to learn and share their work.

Extra-Curricular Activities Supported
District-wide robotics, physical computing, and video game design programs after school and in the summer. Hosting local and regional robotics competitions to provide students a summative experience to display their work. 
Currently developing a “Tech Fair” that will be a culmination of student projects across the district. Programs across the district will use various areas of digital technology to address an issue facing our community. Along the way, students will learn the state of technology available to address community-based issues and the skills needed to effectively use these tools.  
Philosophy of Physical Computing
My goal as an educator is to get students to see how computational thinking can be creative and meaningful. Physical computing provides a unique way of merging the analog world with the digital world. Students see how fabrication and design using tangible and creative media can be combined with code to create amazing end products.  I find that this resonates with a much more diverse set of students. 
After teaching for 12 years in Lynden, WA, I enrolled as a graduate student at Michigan Tech University to explore UX/UI for educational applications in 2012.  Since then, I have been exploring and sharing with others the ways that students can engage in creative computational thinking using Arduino-based microcontrollers and have presented at numerous conferences on Physical Computing in education and ways to diversify enrollment in CS programs by appealing to a wider range of student interests. 

Partner Spotlight: Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)

Picture of Terron Ishihara

The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing public K-12 education in Washington state. OSPI maintains an equity-based lens in providing high-quality public education to all Washington students. To that end, there are challenges persistent within each subject as well as successes and future developments.


Terron Ishihara joined OSPI as Computer Science Program Supervisor in early 2023. Since then, he has observed the current landscape of CS education in Washington and has taken steps to address some key issues:
  • About 48% of public high schools in Washington offer CS coursework. OSPI’s CS grants and our ESD regional CS leads have contributed to the increase of this metric each year.
  • There is a need for more CS educators, exacerbated by higher-paying industry jobs and educator attrition, though also alleviated by preservice programs and professional development opportunities.
  • Agents of change in CS education seem somewhat spread out or disconnected in Washington. Bringing these folks together through efforts such as CSforAllWA, led by Terron and Dr. Amy Ko from University of Washington, is critical for broadening participation in CS.
Terron is optimistic about statewide efforts to provide high quality CS education to all 1M+ students. He has established OSPI as a Girls Who Code community partner and his newsletter shares CS resources and news each month with a growing number of subscribers. He encourages anyone passionate about CS education to share their thoughts ( and connect with support structures like CSTACSforAllWA, and WINforCS.

Data Corner: AP Computer Science in Washington

Since its introduction in the 2017-18 school year, AP Computer Science Principles has been the fastest growing AP exam ever and a boon to high school CS education. Driven by the rapid growth in AP CS Principles, overall AP CS participation grew 15.1% annually from 2018-2022. In 2022, AP CS Principles comprised 65% of all the AP CS exams taken.    
In 2023, the total number of students taking AP CS A or Principles nationwide was 258,953. In contrast, the number of students taking AP Calculus AB or BC was 409,445.
Washington has been relatively slow to pick up AP CS Principles although 2022 saw a big jump. The number of Washington students taking AP CS exams only grew at an annual rate of 12.5% (vs. 15.1% nationwide) from 2018-2022. In 2022, AP CS Principles comprised 46% (vs. 65% nationwide) of all the AP CS exams taken in Washington.   
Public schools in Washington have up to 6 weeks between the end of exams and the end of the school year.  The 2024 AP CS A Exam is on May 8; the AP CS Principles Exam is on May 15; the test dates for IB Computer Science are on May 2 and May 6.  In Washington, most public schools end in late June. This year, Seattle Public Schools ends on June 21.
While the late start to Washington’s school year means considerably less time to cram students for AP and IB exams, the post-exam period gives CS teachers and students substantial time to explore areas of interest. 
In addition to industry speaker visits and field trips, the below compiles some of the best ideas offered by teachers on the CSTA Public Community
  • Preparing for a Congressional App Challenge submission.  Coursework done during the 2023-24 school year – including the AP CS Principles performance task and the IB CS Internal Assessment – can often be modified and repurposed for the 2024 CaC competition run by all of Washington’s congressional districts,
  • You may also have your students design their own projects – or combine some of the above with their own projects. If you do, you may find the following template from Kate Whittaker in Pennsylvania useful to provide guidelines and structure for these projects.
CS Endorsement Exam Prep Course
Do you or someone you know want to get endorsed to teach CS in Washington? 
Registration for the June 2024 cohort of the CS Endorsement Exam Prep Course for Washington State is now open.  Scholarships covering $550 of the retail $650 cost are available to current public-school teachers and juniors/seniors in an undergraduate teacher prep program. 
Spring PD Clock Hours 
The Spring Session of CSTA online courses is from April 1 to June 16. Visit the PSCSTA website for the list of available courses and more details.
PSCSTA provides free Washington clock hours to its members for these courses. These courses are free to CSTA+ members.

Capitol Region Meetup Update

PSCSTA members in and around Olympia and Tacoma got together to discuss CS education issues in the region on Apr 25 in Olympia. They were joined later in the evening by members of the South Sound STEM Advisory. 

If you are interested in creating your own CS Educator Meetup of PSCSTA members for your region or interest area, please contact


Anxiously Waiting for Election Results?

So are we. Voting for the national CSTA Board ended on April 27, but results will NOT be available when this newsletter is published on May 1. All CSTA+ members were eligible to vote.

PSCSTA President Dr. Lauren Bricker was a candidate for the College/Faculty Representative position on the CSTA Board. We are hopeful that the election results that will be announced by May 20 will bring her good news.

PSCSTA Treasurer
Gains National Recognition
There are over 500 CSTA Chapter Leaders worldwide.  Of these, PSCSTA Treasurer and Advocacy Lead Lawrence Tanimoto won both the Men's and Women's Brackets of the 2024 CSTA Chapter Leaders March Madness Challenge.  Truly an amazing feat. Congratulations, Lawrence!
The Puget Sound Computer Science Teachers Association Connector is a monthly newsletter containing relevant information, upcoming events, learning, and connection opportunities for local CS Educators. Previous issues can be viewed by following the "News" tab on the PSCSTA homepage. If you have any comments about the current edition or ideas for future editions, please email If you wish to not be receiving the monthly PSCSTA Connector unsubscribe from them HERE.
Upcoming Events
PSCSTA Donate via Credit Card "Event"
Sep 01, 2023 - Aug 31, 2024
CS Endorsement Exam Prep Course for Washington State - June 2024 Cohort
Mar 01, 2024 - Mar 31, 2025
PSCSTA Quarterly Open Membership Meeting June 2024
Jun 05, 2024
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM UTC-07:00
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