Delaware Gov. Jack Markell learned how University of Delaware computer and information sciences (CIS) professors and local teachers are working together to enhance K-12 computer education during a visit to UD’s Newark campus June 23.

From June 23-27 Delaware middle and high school educators participated in the Partner4CS workshop, in which UD faculty members from the Department of Computer and Information Sciences and School of Education instructed participants how to teach a stand alone computer science course, or how to integrate computer science into their curriculum.

The teachers learned concepts such as programming, algorithms and networking architecture, in addition to lesson planning and pedagogy techniques.

While at the event, Markell thanked the teachers for their time and commitment to their students’ success.

“Learning these computer science principles is unbelievably important to our state’s young people,” Markell said. “The number of job opportunities is staggering, the salaries are lucrative and there are many vacancies in the field, so preparing the next generation of leaders is crucial.”

The governor also admitted that the state has not efficiently integrated computer science curriculums into schools in the past, which makes programs like UD’s Partner4CS workshop an important resource as the state moves forward.

According to Terry Harvey, CIS associate professor, early results indicate their efforts already are making a difference.

“Last summer we worked with teachers to incorporate Computer Science Principles into their existing curricula, and now over half of this year’s 32 participants will be teaching full computer science courses this fall,” Harvey said.

The new courses, Harvey added, will reach 450 students, while a total of 3,800 students will gain access to the lessons through other courses such as math or social studies.

Computer Science Principles (CSP) is a new national curriculum funded by the National Science Foundation. CSP is slated to become an Advanced Placement computer science course in the 2016-17 school year.

“Many existing high school classes teach students how to use computers and applications, but this curriculum teaches computing fundamentals so that students become creators, not just users, of this critical technology,” added Lori Pollock, CIS professor and principal investigator on the NSF CS10K grant supporting the workshop.

A significant outcome of this year’s workshop was the formation of a Delaware chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), a national organization that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science and other computing disciplines.

Other UD faculty integral in the Partner4CS workshop include Chrystalla Mouza, associate professor in the School of Education in UD’s College of Education and Human Development, and James Atlas, CIS associate professor.

 Collette L. O’Neal, UDaily