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Author Linda Liukas speaks with elementary students, with a picture of her book Hello Ruby in the foreground

Finnish author visits Chinese Immersion School at De Avila to inspire computer science students

03/08/18

Going online may be routine for many adults, but for younger children, the internet is exciting and full of endless possibilities.

Such sentiment was on full display when Finnish author and illustrator Linda Liukas visited the Chinese Immersion School at De Avila on Feb. 8 to tell the story behind her book “Hello Ruby” as part of a computer science (CS) lesson.

The book, inspired from Liukas’ own programming career, follows a curious young girl who goes on adventures and uses technology to create a new world that is wonderful, whimsical and a tiny bit weird, and is meant to inspire students to explore CS.

“Three years ago, the district approved plans to gradually expand CS to all grades. This year we expanded CS classes to 100 percent of middle schools and comprehensive high schools and 42 percent of elementary schools,” said Bryan Twarek, SFUSD’s Computer Science Program Administrator. “Children’s books like 'Hello Ruby' are used across the district in our elementary schools’ CS curriculum as an effective approach to engage our young learners in interdisciplinary learning.”

Liukas shared what inspired her to become a children’s book author. “When I got stuck in programming, I drew pictures on papers, thinking how I could explain my work to children. From there I had the idea of becoming a children’s book writer.”

After the presentation, the teacher, Mei Yi Yu, emphasized the importance of engaging students to learn through creativity.

“Students do not need fancy technology and expensive devices to learn CS,” Yu said. “In our classrooms, we need to encourage students to be creative and think outside of the box and give them time to explore and pursue their passion!”