Rocket scientist teacher encourages students, gamers

By Jay Bedecarré on October 8, 2018

Computer Lab for websiteAnthony Anderson gets a big smile when he answers the question, “Do you tell your students you’re a real rocket scientist?” The lead teacher in the Clayton Valley Charter High School science department is an honest-to-goodness rocket scientist, witness his aerospace engineering degree from the country’s top AE school, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.

In his second year at CVCHS Anderson is building a reputation among students for his three computer classes—-game design and introduction to computer science. He also teaches two periods of geometry.

During a recent visit to his classroom, Anderson’s introduction to computer science class began with two presentations from students. Their visuals were projected on a large screen at the back of the room with the speakers able to go through their presentation by touching the screen.

Both presentations were done by female students. Sophomore Ada Fong went through the elements of the pitch video her team made last year for the mobile app they developed and entered in an international Girls Who Code competition, part of a 90,000 female student movement.

The CVCHS team’s app revolved around school safety inspired by the most recent school shooting last year. Before Fong gave her presentation, Anderson informed the class to put away all devices because not doing that “is the easiest way to fail the course.” For the rest of our visit the students were focused on the speakers and then working on their assignments.

The next group to present to the class was a team this school year developing a mobile app called Ride or Die. Another socially conscious app, they are trying to reduce the number of accidents involved impaired drivers. They said that one-third of all teen deaths are due to drunk driving and they are working on a business plan to make it a reality.

Anderson says the hottest part of his computer program revolves around eSports. He has 57 official members and 187 total competitive players (80% male) taking part in eSports on campus. In his classroom he has 10 computers with 22” screens that can be used for playing eSports against their classmates and people around the world.

Anderson says, “Colleges are now offering scholarships for ‘eSports athletes.’” This has added interest and legitimacy to playing video games. His CVCHS varsity eSports team will be competing against other schools. He says Fortnite and League of Legends are the most popular games among his eSports students.

When the student presentations were completed his students quietly and immediately got up and either took a Chromebook off a cart that is shared among CVCHS classes or sat at one of the 10 large screen computer stations to work on their classwork and projects.

Anderson obviously has great rapport with his students, fostered from his 14 years teaching. He began as a science teacher in Florida following graduation and has also taught in Livermore, Pittsburg and Antioch.

He grew up in Los Angeles USD schools and went across the country for college to “be a creator of technology, not just a user.”

He has continued his desire for learning by spending last summer as a research fellow at Stanford’s School of Engineering. He expects to finish up his Master of Education at St. Mary’s College next year.

In a male dominated field, it’s refreshing to see the number of females in his class, fully engaged. CVCHS emphasizes the importance of encouraging high school girls towards careers in computer coding and Anderson is leading the way.

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