UNM Computer Science Associate Professor David Ackley and Professor Emeritus Ed Angel are co-principal investigators, along with Principal Investigator Irene Lee of the Santa Fe Institute, on a new NSF grant to train mid– and high school teachers to teach computer science.
The three-year, $1 million grant will allow the Computer Science Department and the Santa Fe Institute to conduct a course in the spring semester for 30 teachers across the state using UNM’s on-line system. The teachers will learn about complex systems (SFI’s primary research area) and computer science fundamentals using NetLogo a widely used simulation environment. Next summer, UNM and SFI will conduct a workshop for the teachers.
The UNM CS and the teachers will offer a dual credit Computer Science course for 600 high school students in Fall 2013. The course sequence will be repeated in 2014 for 30 more teachers and 600 students.
“These courses will not be the normal entry level courses in computer science, which emphasize programming, but rather they will use simulation to explore the range of activities that computer science can address,” said Angel. “The course curriculum should appeal to young women and other groups who are under-represented in computer science.”
The project is part of a National Science Foundation effort to draw middle and high school students into the area of computer science. NSF program managers are concerned because universities are graduating a declining number of students in computer science. This grant is designed to test a new approach for attracting students to the discipline.
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