18 April 2012
STEM Education in San Diego Receives Support from Power Ten, Inc.
For young people looking toward their future and the possible career choices that may lay ahead, the path is often confusing and navigation to their chosen field is cluttered and unclear. For students interested in Computer Science and the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, one local project, with the help of Power Ten, Inc., is working to make the path easier to navigate by developing a standardized curriculum for college bound young people.
Using Advanced Placement (AP) coursework as the tool to achieve this standardization, a team of educators from San Diego is launching a pilot program to bring the efforts of high school teachers together to meet a growing need. Being led by Dr. Elizabeth Simon, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at UCSD, a team comprised of members from the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD, University of California San Diego, and San Diego State University is developing the new curriculum. The program, locally called ComPASS (Computing Principles for All Students’ Success) is part of Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21), a national project that seeks to broaden participation in computing and computer science.
According to Dr. Simon, “there is an on-going national effort to define general education computer science curriculum and what it should be.”
Receiving grant funding from the National Science Foundation as well as additional funding from Power Ten, Inc., a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, which believes in investing in the communities it serves, the project in San Diego is bringing computer science teachers together to help train the future workforce with a specific skill set that will prepare students for careers in the technology sector as well as the overall workforce.
Fulfilling the need in San Diego, the ComPASS program, fosters broad-based, inclusive, and motivational instruction in computing foundations and computational thinking for all students, regardless of their eventual career path. The ComPASS project will directly impact 105 pre-service teachers, 19 in-service teachers, and about 5000 students. If successful, its model could be adopted at other universities, colleges, and school districts.
Dr. Simon has been involved in introducing women to the STEM fields for more than 15 years and sees a distinct need to continue to reach the underrepresented groups in the field. According to research less than 20% of females graduate with degrees in the STEM fields.
In aggregate, CE21 projects will contribute to our understanding of how diverse student populations are engaged and retained in computing, learn its fundamental concepts, and develop computational competencies that position them to contribute to an increasingly computationally empowered workforce.