Are you interested in exploring how to bring computer science and programming into your school or classroom? Please read below for details on a Google-supported workshop that we are offering August 14-16 at Michigan Tech. The workshop is a starting point to join a community of teachers for computing education across Michigan and the Upper Midwest region, in conjunction with faculty and students at Michigan Tech.
As computer technology becomes an ever more powerful and pervasive factor in our world, students need instruction in the creative problem solving skills that are the basis of computer science. Software design and programming skills, along with an understanding of the principles of computer systems and applications, are tremendously valuable in a wide range of future careers, and the problem solving process of computational thinking can be used to enrich a wide range of K-12 courses. New tools and teaching materials make it possible to bring the creative spirit of computing into K-12 classrooms.
From a teacher’s perspective, however, bringing computer science into the classroom can seem intimidating. We want to help teachers develop confidence in their own computer science literacy and help them craft a computing curriculum that meets their teaching missions. As faculty members of the Computer Science Department at Michigan Tech, we are keenly aware of the need to get young people interested and engaged in creative computing, and we have developed programs at Michigan Tech and in the local community to further this goal.
Through a Google CS4HS (Computer Science for High Schools) grant, we are offering a workshop to expose teachers to exciting new ways to bring computer science into schools. The workshop will be the first step in building a community of practice to provide long-term support and training for teachers with little or no computer science background.
Instruct teachers with a basic level understanding of Computer Science Principles. At the workshop, we will expose teachers with little or no CS experience to course materials targeted for a K-8 or High School audience. We aim to give them the confidence to take on this material in their own courses. The theme this year is “Big Data”; we will show how even large sets of real-world data (about the environment, human behavior, etc.) can be harnessed and manipulated easily through code.
Help teachers integrate programming into new and existing courses. As computing has moved into the forefront of a wide variety of fields, an interesting emergent strategy is to integrate computer science into more traditional math and science courses. At the workshop, we will collaborate with teachers to determine where and how aspects of CS can be integrated into their courses.
Disseminate our K-12 computer programming course materials developed at Michigan Tech. Our curriculum takes students through a variety of programming languages and environments and exposes them to a breadth of application areas. Beyond building “something that works”, we consider principles of good design and tradeoffs between different implementations.
Provide tools for increasing interest in computing among young women. As a “Pacesetter” participant inNCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology), we are striving to increase the participation of women enrolling in undergraduate computer science degree programs. Towards this goal we will provide teachers with a better understanding of the breadth of careers available to students who major in computing, and we will encourage teachers and students to tap into the NCWIT network.
This is a tentative schedule. Things are likely to change depending on attendees’ interests and other factors. All sessions are in Rekhi Hall unless otherwise indicated.
Monday August 14
Community of Practice: Getting to Know Each Other and What “Computing” Means in our Schools
K-12 Computer Science Standards
Programming Tracks: Getting Your Feet Wet
Teacher Experience Reports
Tuesday August 15
Why is CS education needed in K-12
Discussion: Obstacles and Ideas for Kick-Starting CS
Computing Careers: Local Industry Panel
Computing research facilities tour
Programming Tracks: Coding Style/Design
Wednesday August 16
Programming Tracks: Big Data
Diversity in Computing: Why and How
Teacher Experience Reports
Introduction to COP Resources
Final Wrap-up and Feedback
The CS4ALL Workshop will be held in Rekhi Hall at Michigan Technological University. Michigan Tech is a friendly campus of 7,000 students located in Houghton, MI on the waterfront of Portage Lake and the Keweenaw Waterway. Just a few miles from campus, on either end of the waterway, lies Lake Superior—the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area There is a 4.5 mile long walking and biking trail along the waterfront that leads to several nature trails outside of town. The area is rich in natural wonder; a rugged and beautiful land.