July 13, 2015

Massachusetts Teachers Gather to Enhance Computer Science Skills

WALTHAM, MA | Massachusetts teachers are gathering this week for a three-day workshop to learn how to incorporate computer modeling and simulation in their science classrooms. The workshop is being offered at no cost to middle and high school teachers thanks to the EDC-led Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) initiative, which works to expand computing education opportunities for all Massachusetts students.

Teachers attending the workshop known as Project GUTS (“Growing Up Thinking Scientifically”), will learn about StarLogo Nova, a tool that enables students to develop, run, and share computer simulations. They will also learn basic computer science concepts and best practices for teaching these concepts to students and will receive a certificate of completion.

Project GUTS, originally designed by the Santa Fe Institute, was created to encourage students to investigate scientific topics using computer modeling and simulation. For example, a high school curriculum unit on disease could be enhanced by offering students the opportunity to create a computer model of the disease pathway or progression.

“This is a terrific opportunity to give teachers the tools they need to get students excited about computer science,” said state Senator Karen Spilka, a strong proponent of state efforts to prepare students for careers in the STEM fields. “Future careers in our innovation economy depend on computer science and STEM skills. Teachers play a critical role in engaging students and getting them interested in these subject areas.”

The workshop and its follow-up sessions are being organized by MassCAN, the Computer Science Teachers Association of Greater Boston, the Christa McAuliffe Center, and Framingham State University. It is funded by Verizon, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and the Expanding Computing Education Pathway project at UMASS Amherst.

“We have seen tremendous support for efforts to increase computer learning opportunities in Massachusetts,” said EDC’s Jim Stanton, executive director of MassCAN. “We’re grateful to our many partners in Massachusetts government, business, and industry for championing our work to prepare students for the future.”

Learn more about MassCAN and future professional development opportunities.

EDC designs, implements, and evaluates programs to improve education, health, and economic opportunity worldwide. Visit www.edc.org.