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WSU Tri-Cities to create computer science endorsement

Program to train next generation of teachers, students technology skills through workshops

LINH NGUYEN, Evergreen reporter

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After receiving a grant at the end of October, two professors from WSU Tri-Cities have collaborated to create a computer science endorsement for the existing teacher certificate program.

The approximately $49,000 grant was awarded by the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, in partnership with the Pacific Northwest National Library.

The program would consist of a two-part planning process, said Jonah Firestone, the principal investigator for the project.

Firestone

Before establishing course curriculum, Firestone said the plan is to develop a series of workshops for teachers to attend and provide feedback, with the purpose of determining content for future classes.

“We’re really looking for teachers across the spectrum, who might do some computer science teaching,” Firestone said, “but are able to integrate computer science into their existing curriculum.”

Being chosen from five sectors, the districts would nominate teachers from Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Prosser and Othello.

Morrison

Firestone said the workshops would take place once a month, and provide a stipend of $100 to the thirty teachers chosen to participate in the program.

In the second phase of the process, Firestone said that information would be implemented from the workshops into five specified courses.

The computer science curriculum would consist of learning computer programming languages Python and Java, rhetoric in computer science, computational thinking and methods of teaching computer science in a classroom.

“Computers are in our daily lives,” Firestone said. “We need to have our generation and future generations be able to work with technology as more than just consumers [by getting] into how computers work.”

As a Senior STEM Education Consultant for PNNL, Ann Wright-Mockler would coordinate with instructional specialists, and help formulate curriculum taught in workshops.

The partnership with PNNL allows for Firestone, as well as his colleague Vice Principal Investigator of the project Judy Morrison to work with many experts in the field such as Wright-Mockler.

By providing many tools for teachers and cultivating information from the workshops, Morrison wants to make the program as accessible to educators as possible.

Morrison said that the computer science endorsement might officially be available at WSU Tri-Cities in the next two years.

“We’re really hoping to get more teachers and students interested in computer science,” she said.