The inaugural CS4HS workshop at Rensselaer August 2012 introduced high school art teachers from Schenectady, Albany, and Troy high schools (and subsequently their art students) to computational thinking (CT) using cultural art. The CS4HS workshop taught computational thinking with the programmable version of the award-winning Culturally-Situated Design Tools (CSDTs), openly accessible via the internet at

The purpose of the workshop was to train local art teachers on how to use Culturally Situated Design Tools (CSDTs). Then, the teachers in turn introduced CSDTs to their high school students who are creative and artistically inclined. CSDTs facilitate the simulation of a wide variety of cultural arts on the computer screen, from cornrow hairstyles and breakdance to kente cloth and drum patterns using concepts shared between computer science and art. In the CS4HS workshop, participants used a CSDT to simulate what they see reflected in a photographic representation of a culture. Then, they used a CSDT creatively to design a freestyle pattern.

In the post-workshop, in-school activities, art students took this art, math, culture, and computing fusion a step further by physically crafting their virtual designs in the real world, using hands-on art and design media.


Workshop Participants and Organizers

Workshop Director and co-Instructor Audrey Bennett is a tenured associate professor of graphics at Rensselaer in Troy, New York. She has an M.F.A. in graphic design from Yale University’s School of Art and a B.A. in studio art from Dartmouth College. She penned the 2012 monograph titled “Engendering Interaction with Images” published by Intellect, UK and distributed in the US by Chicago University Press. Prof. Bennett is also editor of “Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design” published by Princeton Architectural Press and co-Editor of ICOGRADA’s Design Education Manifesto 2011. She has won numerous awards for her graphic art including a College Art Association Professional Development Fellowship. Prof. Bennett is on the Peer-Review Panel for Iridescent, the Icograda Journal of Design Research. She is the founder of GLIDE, a biennial virtual conference; and director of, a virtual design studio for user-centered research on global images. Prof. Bennett’s research is funded by Google, The Coalition to Diversify Computing; The Society for Technical Communication; National Science Foundation; and AIGA, the professional association for design. Prof. Bennett studies cross-cultural and transdisciplinary communication with images that aim to effect social change.

co-Instructor and Founder Ron Eglash received his B.S. in Cybernetics, his M.S. in Systems Engineering, and his PhD in History of Consciousness, all from the University of California. A Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship enabled his field research on African ethnomathematics, which was published by Rutgers University Press as African Fractals: modern computing and indigenous design, and recently appeared as his TED talk. He is currently a Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he teaches design of educational technologies and graduate seminars in social studies of science and technology. He also has a joint appointment in the Department of Computer Science. His “Culturally Situated Design Tools” software, offering math and computing education from indigenous and vernacular arts, is available for free at

Google Representative Aemon Cannon is an Engineer on the AdWords Editor team in New York. Editor is a ‘power’ application for managing large AdWords accounts. He’s been at Google for about a year. Originally from California, Aemon did his B.S at UCSB and M.S at Stanford. His technical interests are in areas of programming language design, optimization for dynamic languages, and developer tools. He is the author of ENSIME, an IDE for the Scala programming language, and the creator of (a virtual pet game for kids). Aemon likes to paint, juggle, and run in his spare time.

Workshop participants Jeff Burger is the Visual Arts Curriculum Leader for Troy City Schools and an art teacher at Troy High School. He has been in the education field for over 20 years. Before teaching in Troy, he was Museum Educator at The Tacoma Art Museum and also Education Consultant in The Puget Sound area. He received his Bachelor in Art Education from the State University College at Buffalo and his Master of Art Education at The College of St Rose. In his spare time, he is a practicing Ceramist and Song Writer.

Margaret “Peg” Foley holds a Master of Science degree in Art Education from the College of St. Rose and a Bachelor of Science degree in Fine Arts from Nazareth College in Rochester. She is the recipient of a Surdna Foundation Fellowship and has studied art at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. She has taught and created art for the past forty years and currently teaches art in the International Baccalaureate program at Schenectady High School. Her work has been shown in and around the Northeast for the past thirty-five years. She presently uses photo etching and photo screen-printing processes to create mixed media works which incorporate fabrics and a variety of fibers into pieces which deal with the theme of impermanence. She is presently co-director of the Oakroom Artists and has been on the board of NYSATA region six for the past fifteen years.

Sarah Foster, artist and art teacher, graduated from The College of Saint Rose with bachelors and masters degrees in Art Education after earning an associates degree in Fine Arts at Sage Albany. Specializing in three dimensional media, she
currently teaches Pottery & Sculpture, Advanced Pottery & Sculpture, and International Baccalaureate Visual Art & Design at Albany High School in Albany, New York.  Ms. Foster has been an art teacher for over 20 years and is dedicated to advancing student arts understanding, investigation, production, and mastery. Ms. Foster continues to collaborate with CSR and Sage and eagerly anticipates working with the CS4HS group at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Laurie Maimone, teacher, Albany High School, New York

Ira Marcks is an illustrator and educator with a BFA in New Media Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has over ten years experience as an art instructor in a variety of formal and informal learning environments including public and private schools, adapted education institutions and art enrichment programs. He is currently working in collaboration with art centers and educational institutions throughout New York’s Capital Region to develop workshops for youth that focus on thoughtful design. Recently he presented some of his work on integrating art and mathematics into classroom curriculum at the National Art Education Convention.

Mark Sickler holds a Master of Science degree in Art Education from the State University of New York at New Paltz and a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Georgia College and State University. He has taught Art in a variety of public schools to young people for the past 32 years. Currently at Albany High School he teaches Graphic Arts, Studio Arts, and Video Production Courses. Mark also teaches Digital Media Literacy in the Art Classroom for Graduate Art Education candidates at the Sage Colleges of Albany. In addition to teaching, Mark is a visual artist specializing in mixed-media drawing, painting and image creation.

Rensselaer Undergraduate Researchers: 

Eric Maurer is working on combining his interests in engineering and art by pursuing a dual major at Rensselaer (Mechanical Engr. & Product Design, Class of 2014). In order to bridge the gap between these two mediums, he has been studying metaphysics and sacred geometry for almost 3 years. In his free time, Eric enjoys meditating, painting/drawing, making music, and helping mother Earth in any way possible. Future aspirations for careers include custom toy designer and reiki master. He is working with Prof. Bennett to create art activities that art teachers can integrate into their curriculum. 

Tiffany Milano is currently a senior co-terminal student at Rensselaer. She will graduate in May 2013 with a dual Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Electronic Media Arts & Communications and a Master’s degree in Human Computer Interaction. In March 2011, she was inducted into Phalanx Honor Society, RPI’s senior leadership honor society. Subsequently, in May 2012, her strong leadership and technical skills led her to become a finalist for the Anita Borg Memorial Google Scholarship. This past summer she worked at Razorfish in NYC as a User Experience Intern. She is working with Professor Bennett to create a Rhythm Wheels App using MIT App Inventor.

GoogleThe CS4HS@RPI workshop on August 22 2012 was funded by Google’s CS4HS grant program. CS4HS (Computer Science for High School) is “an initiative sponsored by Google to promote Computer Science and Computational Thinking in high school and middle school curriculum.” The CS4HS workshops are approved (IRB #1170) by Rensselaer’s Internal Review Board that evaluates research on human subjects.