Preparing Secondary Teachers and Students for Quantum Information Science
Quantum information science (QIS) is imperative to economic and national security, commerce, and technology. Development of a "quantum smart" workforce needs to begin before college. The logical venue for exposure to quantum might be a physics course, but numerous K-12 students attend schools where physics is not offered. Since most students will not major in physics, it is vital to expose K-12 students to quantum concepts that are relevant to everyday experiences with credit card security, phones, computers, and basic technology. This project will provide opportunities for students to learn about quantum, regardless of whether they take a physics class. This project will also provide opportunities for secondary educators to learn about QIS and practice teaching it. Project partners include universities, businesses, and professional organizations such as Science Teacher Association in Utah and Texas, American Association of Physics Teachers, Institute for Quantum Computing, and Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. These organizations will provide support for participants and presenters and provide professional growth opportunities. This project is co-funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, which supports projects that build understandings of practices, program elements, contexts and processes contributing to increasing students' knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers. This project aims to impact a minimum of 100 teachers and 600 students. The project will support professional development (PD) for STEM teachers to learn about quantum effects and effective curricular connections through carefully planned resources with learning cycles appropriate for high school students. The first summer will involve virtual PD. The second summer will involve face-to-face (F2F) PD and the third summer will involve F2F local camps. Teachers will co-teach student camps in Year 2 and then provide local camps in year 3. The camps will provide opportunities for students to learn about quantum mechanics and for teachers to increase confidence in teaching quantum. The camps will be led by educators who have participated in the workshops, and will provide local opportunities for underrepresented groups. The project will identify pedagogy appropriate for teaching QIS to high school teachers or students, and content concepts that are difficult to understand, through the use of pre- and post-content assessments, confidence surveys, and participant engagement. Participants will be asked to provide feedback on the resources and curriculum in the classroom as well as the potential for classroom implementation and impact on interest in QIS and ICT careers. Results of the project will potentially inform other professional development models designed to serve underrepresented groups and reduce potential barriers to implementing new and complex content in the classroom. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.