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Published August 08, 2019
The National Science Foundation recently awarded nearly $1 million to support the inclusion of computer science education in Wyoming schools and libraries.
The grant, sponsored by the University of Wyoming, will be branded as Wyoming’s Schools and Libraries Integrating Computer Science Education (WySLICE) and will prepare 150 K-8 teachers and state librarians from all disciplines to integrate computer science into their curricula.
The Wyoming Legislature recently mandated that computer science instruction be provided in K-12 schools by 2022. The grant application was backed with letters of support from former Gov. Matt Mead, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and 17 other partners.
UW College of Engineering and Applied Science Assistant Professor Mike Borowczak led the grant application and will oversee research throughout the project.
“Computer science is rapidly becoming a need-to-know competency for all,” Borowczak says. “WySLICE will study how to enable our students and communities to be exposed to fundamental computer science concepts in an integrated fashion that goes beyond just programming.”
Borowczak leads the WySLICE core principal investigator team and is joined by three other UW faculty members from the College of Education; College of Engineering and Applied Science; and College of Arts and Sciences. The co-principal investigators are Andrea Burrows, an associate professor of science education; Lars Kotthoff, an assistant professor of computer science; and Adam Myers, an associate professor of physics and astronomy The project also assembles a network improvement community composed of partners from UW, community colleges, Wyoming school districts, the Wyoming State Library System, the Wyoming Department of Education and local software development firms.
The community enlists K-8 teachers from across the state to experience professional development and collaborate on integrating computer science into their instruction of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and social science topics. The curricula involve cybersecurity as well as other topics, including the use of technology in social concerns such as voting.
“Our technology-driven society will require a workforce with an ability to work with, diagnose, repair and develop computationally backed systems, and all industries and disciplines are looking to leverage the power of advanced computing,” Borowczak says.
The grant award lasts through July 2022 and allows WySLICE to offer outreach and programs that extend Borowczak’s and Burrows’ prior professional development work without reapplying annually throughout the award. More information on the program and community partners can be found at www.uwyo.edu/WySLICE.