6 Ways IT Boosts STEM Learning



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The Computer Science degree program provides students with engaging pathways to STEM learning with a standards-aligned experience. IT can also leverage game-based learning, weave engineering and math learning together, and provide personalized pathways that support all learners – novices, intermediates and experts.

And computer programming is fun; it is an activity that students enjoy participating in. There are certainly academic benefits, but the activities also develop a growth mindset and other socio-emotional learning skills, such as determination and persistence.

Knowing this, our school participates in a grant program with the National Science Foundation, South Fayette Township in Kentucky, and another local school district that emphasizes STEM learning through computer science.

When one of our teachers heard about an online coding, robotics and computing platform, she started using it in her classroom. We then decided to include it in a professional development framework that we were planning for the summer, believing that it would also be very beneficial for our children.

We ended up implementing CoderZ in our district of 3,500 students and using components for the summer school. Through the grant program, our district purchased a robot for every student in Kindergarten to Grade 8, each of whom can take home as a reward for attending four weeks of summer school. By the end of the summer session, the students had the tools to learn to code and transfer the code, and the ability to do it themselves at home.

We have seen firsthand how this program benefits our students, especially in the way computer science learning:

Open the doors

Computer occupations are the main source of all new wages in the United States and account for more than half of all new jobs planned in STEM fields. In Kentucky, there are currently 4,315 open computer jobs with an average salary of $ 74,833. Yet only 45% of all public high schools teach a core course in this skill. Teacher preparation programs in Kentucky haven’t graduated a single new teacher prepared to teach computer science in 2018. To open doors to well-paying computer careers, current teachers need to be confident in their ability to integrate the computer science profession. computer science in their classrooms. A platform like CoderZ gives individual students the chance to thrive in an area full of opportunity, and teachers the chance to learn too.

Engage students

Computer science keeps students immersed and excited about robot coding and other aspects of STEM learning. It’s practical and one task builds on the next.

Makes coding fair

Students work independently and gain confidence. As the content becomes more and more complex, students help each other develop better code and develop collaboration and teamwork skills. Every student is involved. We can make coding fair for our students with special needs and use it to challenge our gifted students. Whether it’s a kindergarten girl or an eighth grade boy, they all start in one place and can grow.

Meets state technology standards

This year our state rolled out new technology standards that are used as requirements for graduation. We are working with the CoderZ team on ways to use the program to meet these technology standards. It will not cover all the standards, but it will cover some of them.

Gives students coding skills

To be ready for the future, every student should have a basic understanding of coding. A good computer science and STEM curriculum can differentiate instruction to engage both beginners and experienced coders. One of the things that stood out for us was the CoderZ Amazon Cyber ​​Robotics Challenge, which gave students a first-hand / real-life experience of how coding and robotics are used in everyday life.

Get girls interested in STEM

Many girls choose not to focus on math and science skills in college. Hands-on computing is an exciting way to overcome girls’ reluctance to participate in math and science. We’ve seen this happen directly with the girls who are working on our IT-based STEM projects.

Since we started using our coding program, we’ve seen some of our high school students doing things that really blew us away. We recently attended a ‘mini-Shark Tank’ event where the students came and showcased all of these great salable ideas that had to involve some coding. It really opened the eyes of some students to what coding can do. When choosing an IT platform, it is important to consider:

  • Speed ​​and delivery of technology. The technology behind a quality STEM program is paramount to its success. Without it, students suffer from issues like limited access, slow load times, and a disappointing viewing experience. Disappointing students early in their experience with any program creates a long road to re-engagement.
  • Balance between standards and pleasure. When a system with a myriad of features may lack standards-aligned courses, an educationally sound offering may not be as appealing to students.
  • Teacher-centered support. A computer science program should be easy to access and use for teachers – and learning – so that they can help their own students succeed.

A strong program can also balance its ability to act on all fronts. When adding IT, make sure you choose a flexible curriculum based on robust technology that includes teacher support.

Bobby Akers is a District Digital Learning Coach, Denise Isaac is Chief Technology Education Officer, and Mike Bell is a District Digital Learning Coach at Floyd County Schools in Kentucky. The team recently set up CodeZ in their computer studies.

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