Harrisburg, PA – This week three school districts from across Pennsylvania were featured during the three-day Computer Science for All PA conference hosted by the state Department of Education in Harrisburg.
Among the districts featured at the conference were South Fayette, Canon-McMillan, and Greater Johnstown Area. The computer science programs at each district were highlighted as models for schools throughout the state.
“Districts across Pennsylvania have pioneered new approaches to teaching computer science,” said Judd Pittman, Education Department Special Advisor on STEM. “Expanding access to computer science and STEM programs will prepare our students to succeed in an ever-evolving workforce, where over 71 percent of jobs will require computer science skills in the next 10 years.”
During the conference students from South Fayette connected computer science to literacy for students in grades 2 and 3. Using Where the Wild Things Are, students used computer coding to animate and add sound to each page, enabling the younger students to read, see and hear the actions in the book.
Canon-McMillan, which was the first district in Pennsylvania to collaborate with Code to the Future, shared how it infuses coding into reading, writing and math lessons in its elementary schools every day.
Greater Johnstown Area School District presented with the University of Pittsburgh- Johnstown, showing how the district leveraged the university’s computer science team to expand computational thinking in learning across the district’s elementary schools.
The conference was offered to train educators and administrators on innovative ways to approach teaching computer science in the commonwealth’s classrooms. In addition to highlighting district programs, it featured national speakers, training in computer science fundamentals presented by Code.org, and other hands-on activities.
Educators sessions included topics like expanding access to computer science in rural communities, attracting more girls to the field of computer science, and integrating computer science with other subjects.
Since taking office in 2015, Governor Wolf has championed to expand access to computer science and STEM education. This year he introduced PAsmart, a $30 million investment to develop and expand computer science and STEM in K-12 education, to prepare and train educators to teach in computer science, STEM, and to offer job training for adults in computer science.
Also, to address the findings of a 2015 report indicating that 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, Governor Wolf requested that the State Board of Education endorse Computer Science Teacher Association (CSTA) K-12 Standards, and in January Pennsylvania joined fewer than a dozen states in to have endorsed the standards.
Governor Wolf is a member of the Governors’ Partnership for K-12 Computer Science, a bipartisan, multi-state initiative organized by Code.org, to build the commonwealth’s existing commitment to STEM education, where Pennsylvania has been recognized as a national leader.
Throughout the summer, PDE leaders will visit educational camps, libraries, and colleges to highlight the importance of computer science and STEM education as part of the #SummerOfSTEM tour.