UMass Amherst to create K-12 computer science curriculum

The team will use focus groups made up of elementary, middle and high school teachers to find the barriers that stop computer science education from being taught.
The team will use focus groups made up of elementary, middle and high school teachers to find the barriers that stop computer science education from being taught. | File photo
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently earned a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to begin developing a comprehensive computer science curriculum for two area school districts.

The districts serve students who are economically disadvantaged and who are high needs. Thanks to the grant, these students in Springfield and Holyoke public schools will be able to learn computation skills that can be used throughout their lives.

The grant, from the “Computer Science for All” program, will allow the team to create models for these students. Eventually, these models will also be used for large and medium urban school districts based in other cities, making the project expandable throughout the US.

The program also encourages states and schools to create comprehensive five-year plans that will help students in public high schools gain access to computing curricula. Computer science learning opportunities should be available to all students, in elementary and middle schools, whether they are girls or minority populations.

The team will use focus groups made up of elementary, middle and high school teachers to find the barriers that stop computer science education from being taught. With the teachers’ experience and knowledge, the researchers will be able to create efficient strategies for making age-appropriate computer science education curriculum.

The curriculum must be useful for local as well as widespread challenges, like state funding, high teacher turnover, infrastructure and state takeover.

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