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Published March 29, 2018
The future of computer science in the Cowboy State will receive a huge boost this summer when teachers from across the state experience a hands-on educational camp at the University of Wyoming.
The Department of Computer Science, in partnership with the College of Education, will host the “RAMPED2: COWPOKES-IoT” program, thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Wyoming Department of Education. Hosted by the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), the two-part camp takes place June 25-29 and July 16-21, and features 25 teachers from Wyoming and surrounding states.
The grant will cover a stipend and housing costs for teachers, and the program is open to educators from elementary, junior high and high schools. The funding also will support four department faculty and two graduate and two undergraduate students for the duration of the program. Along with the CEAS, the program will feature faculty from physics and astronomy, and education.
CEAS students, in collaboration with education faculty, will develop the program curriculum and teaching tools. The camp will introduce attendees to tiny programmable computers called “micro:bits” and online modules, which require minimal equipment. RAMPED2 is a cross-disciplinary program, including students from other areas of engineering, and will expose the attending teachers to circuit development, design and computing elements. Department of Computer Science Professor of Practice Mike Borowczak played a major role in landing the grant.
“It will help CEAS students synthesize what they’ve learned in class into real executable concepts,” Borowczak says. “For them to continue in industry or research in an academic setting, they need to become proficient in packaging the information for consumption by others. They can become accustomed to teaching all the time by improving their communication skills, which they’ll use in everyday applications. There are no wrong answers, so it’s different thinking.”
The teachers selected to attend will gain a solid foundation in important areas, including coding and data mining, which they can subsequently pass on to their students.
“It’s huge for teachers to have the confidence to go into their classrooms and be able to develop these concepts,” Borowczak says. “We’re aiming at all teachers, whether they have a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) focus, art or humanities. This is a valuable skill set for them.”