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Expanding Pathways into Computer Science
Developing computer science teachers that can support high school students in being successful in rigorous, academic computer science courses is a national need, particularly in rural communities. The STEM-C (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, including Computing) Partnerships program supports research-driven partnerships between STEM experts and K-12 school systems to bring about institutional change for better STEM education at the K-12 level. Building on a prior partnership, this STEM-C Partnership's Computer Science Education Expansion project will permanently increase and enhance computer science learning opportunities for 9th and 10th grade students in the Rapid City, South Dakota, area. Over a three-year period, this Partnership will support twenty-four current teachers in offering the Exploring Computer Science (ECS) course. This Partnership is led by two core Partners, the Black Hills State University and the Rapid City Area Schools, which serve the most pre-service teachers and the most off-reservation Native American K-12 students in South Dakota, respectively. Additional Partners include most of the districts in the Rapid City region, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Technology and Innovation in Education, and the Sanford Underground Research Facility, a major scientific research lab in the region.

In addition to establishing the Exploring Computer Science Course at Rapid City Area Schools and neighboring school districts, this Partnership will build strong capacity within K-12 teachers to implement the course well. It will also build linkages among teacher training institutions, local science facilities, K-12 districts, and a regional science and technology university. The project will conduct teacher training activities both on-site and at workshops, and will provide a variety of outreach trainings designed to encourage teachers, administrators, and youth too young to take the ECS course to become excited about the possibilities within computer science. In addition, the project will contribute research findings to the field of computer science education about the teaching and learning of computer science at the high school level. The educational research agenda will address the extent to and ways in which participation in the ECS course influences students' attitudes and beliefs about the nature of computer science, its importance, and its relevance to their lives; and their content knowledge of computer science and related problem-solving skills. Research will also explore the extent to and ways in which teacher participation in the EPCS Project increases teachers' capacity to provide high-quality instruction. Together, the Partners build on the success of a prior Math and Science Partnership project focused on mathematics education, including ways of developing new instructional materials, the introduction and development of a team of instructional coaches, training opportunities for administrators, and family engagement. Research instruments will be developed to measure students' attitudes and beliefs about the nature of computer science, its importance, and relevance to daily life. These instruments, plus the Horizon Classroom Observation Protocol, will be used to evaluate the impact of the computer science courses and associated outreach on teachers and learners in a mixed methods study.

Project Contributions

Grant Will Prepare Teachers To Use Innovation
"Black Hills State University received a grant of $469,628 from the National Science Foundation to increase and enhance computer science learning opportunities for Kindergarten-12th grade students in the Black Hills…