Canonsburg, PA - This week, Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Executive Deputy Secretary David Volkman and Special Consultant to the Secretary on STEM, Judd Pittman, visited Canon-McMillan School District, where they saw elementary school students engaged in high-tech learning across all grade levels.
During the presentation, Kindergarteners showed off their coding skills and students in grades K-4 presented their ‘epic builds,’ projects like programmed LEGO robots, video presentations, and video games.
“The Wolf Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of Education have worked tirelessly over the past two-and-a-half years to ensure that all students, no matter where they live or what school they attend, have access to a high-quality education that will prepare them for success after graduation,” said Dr. Volkman. “Activities like this help them learn – in a fun, engaging, and interactive way – the skills they’ll need in a 21st century workforce.”
Canon-McMillan School District is the first school within the commonwealth to adopt ‘Code to the Future,’ a comprehensive computer science immersion program that integrates computer science into all subjects. This technique helps students learn how to use coding to enhance problem-solving techniques. The school district has also been designated as a Computer Science Immersion Lighthouse District, that will serve as a model for other districts to incorporate ‘Code to the Future.’
“Coding is no longer a niche subject for a select few students. In many ways, it’s an essential language whose use is becoming a necessity across all aspects of our society,” said Superintendent Michael Daniels. “We know that children as young as Kindergarteners can learn coding and how to apply it to a variety of subjects.”
Research suggests that by 2018, the commonwealth will need over 300,000 STEM-related jobs, and over the next ten years, 71 percent of new jobs will require computer science skills. This is not only a need in Pennsylvania, but is an issue throughout the nation.
Last week, Governor Wolf joined the bipartisan Governors’ Partnership for K-12 Computer Science, a multi-state initiative organized by Code.org. The national coalition is committed to increasing access and funding for computer science education in K-12 schools. In 2015, only one in 10 Pennsylvania students in grades 7 through 12 were enrolled in a computer science course, with significant gaps for girls, students of color, and low-income students.
Pennsylvania has made early and important progress in delivering more resources to schools and classrooms, and fostering collaborative, cross-sector dialogue to support STEM education, work-based learning, career pathways, and college access and completion.
To further this important work, the Pennsylvania STEM Coalition was created in 2016, and represents over 600 stakeholders and more than 140 members, and has established a statewide network to improve access to STEM education across the commonwealth.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs please visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.pa.gov or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
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