Thinking Outside the Box: STEM Summit and MassCUE Address How to Bring CS to Public Schools in MA

 |   Aimee Sprung

The technology industry’s demand for graduates with CS skills continues to grow but only .7% of graduates enter the job world with a CS degree. We need to close this gap.

Computer Science education helps students build skills to make them more employable to companies across the state. We continually strive to inspire and encourage both teachers and students to embrace STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) due to this statement. MassCAN has launched fantastic professional development opportunities for teachers, but it will take a few years for each school district to receive the benefits of that development. In the meantime, many schools are using creative methods to bring computer science to their students. The panel I moderated at MassCUE called ‘The Computer Science Gap: Building Teacher Capacity’ was a view into some of the existing successful programs taking place in Massachusetts schools.

Each panelist shared ideas on how to bring computer science to schools, including:

  • Adam Newall, Computer Programming/Math Applications at Pembroke Community Middle SchoolBootstrap World is a curriculum that weaves computer science concepts and game programming skills into Algebra thereby teaching students Algebra and CS at the same time.
  • Doug McGlathery, Computer Science Teacher at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School – TEALS, Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (link: http://www.tealsk12.org/) is a program supported by Microsoft that places industry professionals alongside teachers to deliver the content while the teacher helps with classroom management and over time transition the teaching to the teacher.
  • John Souther, Math Content Director at Mass Insight Education – Advanced Placement computer science as a method to encourage students to pursue academic excellence. http://www.massinsight.org/mmsi/
  • Jim Stanton, Executive Director of MassCAN – Extensive professional development available to MA teachers on Exploring Computer Science, CS Principles, K-5 PD to integrate common core content with CS and more.

On the same day as MassCUE, I, and our General Manager of Technology & Civic Engagement, Annmarie Levins, were excited to participate in the #MASTEMSummit as well.

Annmarie’s intro to the event focused on Massachusetts as a national leader, on need for computer science education, and on the need for collaboration between the business community and the education community to make this happen. In addition to MassCAN, Annmarie talked about the MassTLC Ed Foundation. The Ed Foundation’s mission is to increase the number of students pursuing computing education and careers. Their vision is for all students in Massachusetts to have access to meaningful computing education and understand the principles of computer science and how it applies in the world.

So how can you personally contribute to the efforts to make computer science more pervasive in Massachusetts public schools? You have a HUGE chance to participate in December when Code.org’s Hour of Code events take up the whole month. Hour of Code is during CS Ed Week, December 8 – 14. We are partnering with the MassTLC Ed Foundation and code.org to recruit over 500 teachers and industry volunteers to teach students an Hour of Code. Volunteer here.

Stay tuned to our blog and follow us on Twitter at @MSNewEngland; we’ll be tweeting and blogging about all of the local Hour of Code events coming up!

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Aimee Sprung

To keep up with Aimee you need to be up early. Like 5 AM early. Then you have to squeeze in Crossfit, grow STEM education programs, collaborate with community leaders and still keep up with her family - 2 boys require high energy. Or you can hit the snooze and sleep soundly knowing Aimee has that all covered.