Google Inc. and the University of Colorado Boulder computer science department are partnering to inspire high school and middle school teachers looking for motivating, engaging and fun ways to prepare students for college and career success during an activities-packed workshop July 10-12.
The free workshop at Aurora Public Schools’ Education Center is funded by a $15,000 grant to CU-Boulder Professor Alex Repenning as part of Google’s Computer Science for High Schools initiative, or CS4HS. CS4HS is a worldwide program developed to promote computer science and computational thinking in high school and middle school curricula.
Called CS4HS Scalable Game Design, this year’s workshop will be targeted primarily at teachers in the Aurora Public Schools, though interested teachers from other school districts also may apply. With nearly 40,000 students in 59 schools, Aurora is Colorado’s sixth largest school district and also one of the most diverse, Repenning said.
“Aurora Public Schools has developed a P-20 education model based on the idea of pathways to address the Colorado paradox: The state has one of the nation’s most highly educated adult workforces yet it ranks near the bottom in the percentage of college-bound high school graduates,” he said.
The pathways concept motivates and prepares students for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, as well as health sciences, business, arts and communication.
Repenning and his team from CU-Boulder’s computer science department and School of Education develop and test K-12 curriculum tools, including the use of video game programming as a learning tool, to address the need to develop higher level critical thinking in students and provide more computer science graduates in the workforce.
Last year’s workshop, also offered in partnership with Google, was hosted at CU-Boulder. Working with Aurora Public Schools this year, Repenning and his team will learn how to best scale up their efforts to achieve a broader student impact.
“Developing a replicable way for school districts to engage students on a larger scale, district-wide, will create a turnkey curricular program that other districts around the nation can adopt,” said Yasko Endo, project manager and administrator for the Repenning team. “This systemic adaptation of the Scalable Game Design project will no doubt accelerate the rate at which schools and districts become compliant with the new Next Generation Science Standards, and ultimately will lead to a more competent, skilled, competitive workforce.”
Workshop activities will include hands-on creation of games, best practices for teaching game design, discussions on new and emerging STEM standards and ways of extending computer science skills into STEM classes through simulations.