East Computer Science Students Put Skills to Work Project Serves Needs of Two Partner Organizations
pretty awesome to see my work being used in a meaningful way, rather
than just sitting untouched on a flash drive somewhere,” said Lakota
East senior Bobby Yost.
For nearly ten years, students in the
second-year computer science course at Lakota East have tackled a
large-scale programming project. Early on, the task involved designing
computer games. In more recent years, they’ve stretched themselves to
think about the social impact of their project, but have never put any
finished product to use.
year, however their plans are bigger. Not only are they going beyond
the four walls of their high school, but they’re also building something
that will make a lasting impact on two community organizations with a
real need for programming expertise.
It’s the ultimate
combination of 21st century learning, intersecting two teaching methods
that are growing in popularity around Lakota, across all subject areas
and grade levels: service learning and project-based learning.
challenge students were given simulates one they might encounter as IT
professionals one day. Each group had a client. Each team was led by two
project managers, and each was presented with a real problem facing its
With a focus on database management – because of its
prevalence in the business world – the groups paired up with two local
non-profit organizations as partners: Reach Out Lakota and the Community
Foundation of West Chester/Liberty.
Reach Out Lakota’s plea for
an automated database for its food inventory left an impression with the
first group led by Yost and fellow senior Mitch Bockhorst. That’s not
surprising considering the organization provides relief to hundreds of
Lakota families each year, mostly in the form of food and clothing, and
gets the large majority of its donations through food drives hosted by
“Seeing so many food drives over the years as a
student…for me at least, it’s definitely a pressing need,” said
Bockhorst, noting the current inventory system maintained in a Microsoft
Excel file. “(Reach Out Lakota) has been so present in my life. It
feels good giving back to something that has done so much for my
The second group was moved by the challenge to
create a comprehensive marketing tool that would allow the Community
Foundation to efficiently reach its growing base of volunteers and
donors in the ways they prefer. In other words, the program would
deliver one message to a range of email systems and social media
platforms, based on the individual preferences of the Foundation’s key
According to co-leaders and seniors JC Pyron and
Austin Reifsteck, they are driven by its potential application to other
community organizations and needs.
“Something like this could be reconfigured for so many other needs,” Reifsteck said.
complexity of both projects goes beyond the scope of what students
learn in class. “It’s the class that I say ‘I don’t know’ in the most,”
said computer science teacher David McKain.
including the chance to work with IT professionals who can fill the
voids of expertise, gives them invaluable experience in programming and
“Doing this it has very direct impact we can see,” Bockhorst said. “You don’t get that in many other class projects.”