The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts over 8 million job openings in IT and computing, including 1 million cybersecurity postings, over the current five-year period. This paper presents lessons learned in preparing middle-school students in rural Georgia for future careers in computer science/ IT by teaching computer programming in the free, open-source programming language Python using Turtle graphics, and discusses exercises and activities with low-cost drones, bots, and 3D printers to get students interested and keep them engaged in coding. Described herein is one pair of instructors’ (one middle-school, one university) multi-year, multi-stage approach to providing engineering and technology courses, including: how to code Turtle graphics in Python; how to engage children by using short, interactive, visual programs for every age level; building cross-curricular bridges toward technology careers using 3D printing, robotics, and low-cost drones; and, how to build more advanced programming skills in Python.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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