Google grant supports Fairfield University workshop for area teachers to learn how to incorporate computational thinking into STEM curricula


Image: Engineering students - Sikorsky groupWith the help of a grant from Google, Fairfield University's School of Engineering will present a workshop June 27-29 for area middle and high school teachers to learn how to use "computing education as the glue within science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum development and execution," and create exciting ways to teach their students.

The Fairfield faculty-led workshop, to be held in School of Engineering labs, is primarily for teachers from the Diocese of Bridgeport and the public school districts of Ansonia, Bridgeport, Monroe, and Trumbull. Other school districts are also welcome to participate. The goal is to share educational methods for creating and integrating interactive educational computer games into the curriculum to help middle and high school students learn computer science and engineering concepts and apply them throughout STEM.

"We will be recruiting and having about 15 secondary teachers on campus in June," said Amalia Rusu, Ph.D., assistant professor of Software Engineering, who was awarded a $10,000 grant from Google for a CS4HS (Computer Science for High School) program. "The workshop promises to offer teachers engaging ideas that they can bring back to their own classrooms."

The workshop comes at a time when American students are lagging behind students in China, India and other parts of the world in computer science, math and science study. At the same time, the United States has fallen behind in technological and scientific advancements.

The CS4HS program is an initiative sponsored by Google to promote computer science and computational thinking in middle and high school curriculum. With a grant from Google's Education Group, universities develop two to three day workshops for local teachers. These workshops incorporate informational talks by faculty, researchers, industry leaders, and discussions on new and emerging computer science curricula at the high school and middle school level. Google offers CS4HS grants in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China, New Zealand, and Australia.

Leading the workshop will be Fairfield University faculty member Dr. Rusu, assisted by Dr. Douglas Lyon, professor of Computer Engineering, and Dr. John H. E. Lasseter, assistant professor of Computer Science. "During the three day workshop, various learning activities will alternate between presentations and hands on labs. Everything that will be delivered is based on our proposal, ideas and teaching methods," said Dr. Rusu. "Google sponsors us with funds to put our ideas in practice and help computer science education in that way."

With its annual Excellence in Mathematics and Science Awards, BASE Camp and STEM program for high school students, Fairfield has a history of encouraging Connecticut's young people to pursue STEM study. For more information, contact Dr. Rusu at arusu@fairfield.edu. Visit Fairfield University at www.fairfield.edu.

Image: With its annual Excellence in Mathematics and Science Awards (pictured here are winners from last year) and other special programs, Fairfield has a history of encouraging young people to pursue STEM study. In June, the School of Engineering will present a workshop for teachers to learn how to use computing education as the glue within science, technology, engineering and math curriculum.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on May 8, 2012

Vol. 44, No. 293