Strategic Problem-based Approach to Rouse Computer Science (SPARCS)
The SPARCS project will support 72 teachers of grades 7-9 to integrate computer science into their science and math instruction. Because the world is adopting computational tools quickly, students need to learn about how computational technology can be leveraged to make informed decisions. This project will help teachers integrate computational thinking and computer science principles into their teaching through these tools, by engaging students in projects that analyze data. The question of how to support secondary teachers to integrate computer science and real world related applications into their STEM instruction is on the cutting edge. This project will inform this issue.
Teachers will participate in a summer institute, online courses in computer science, monthly meetings during the school year, and mentorship with industry professionals. During the summer institute, teachers will work in small teams to create activities within a problem-based learning (PBL) framework, which they will implement in their classrooms during the school year. These activities will be informed by existing curricular resources, publicly available electronic data, and advice from industry experts and project staff. The efforts of these teachers will be documented through several forms of data, including elaborate teacher portfolios, observations, interviews, and student achievement results. These data will support refinement of the project from year 1 to year 3, and will be designed to communicate to other educators how to implement similar efforts in other schools.