Back to School: MSU Prepares More than 550 Elementary Teachers to Implement Computer Science Curriculum

As part of a computer science teacher training program this summer led by Mississippi State University’s Center for Cyber ​​Education, elementary teachers from across the state learned how to use an educational robotics platform that can help students learn concepts about Computer Sciences. (Photo Submitted)

Contact: James Carskadon

Group photo at one of the Computer Science Summer Institute classes.
More than 550 elementary school teachers participated in four sessions this summer of the Elementary Computer Science Summer Institute hosted by the Mississippi State Cyber ​​Education Center as part of a statewide effort to implement K-12 computer science curricula. (Photo Submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—After completing Mississippi State University-led training this summer, more than 550 Mississippi elementary teachers are starting the new school year equipped to apply computer science concepts to core subjects.

The MSU Cyber ​​Education Center recently hosted its Computer Science Summer Institute at four locations this summer, with 572 public school teachers participating in the two-day training. Educator training helps school districts meet state legislation passed in 2021 that requires them to provide computer science instruction at every grade level by 2024-25. Teachers learned how to integrate computer science into English lessons language arts, math, science and social studies.

Center for Cyber ​​Education Director Shelly Hollis said the training includes hands-on activities with robots, a full day of coding instruction and a lesson guide for each grade level that aligns with the Mississippi College Standards and Career Readiness curriculum. She added that reaching students at the entry level is a key part of getting students interested in computer science as a subject and as a career field.

“Research shows that students decide what they’re ‘good’ at as early as middle school,” Hollis explained. “If they haven’t had consistent, positive exposure to computer science in their elementary years, they may feel like they don’t belong in that space and are less likely to take an interest in computer science topics in middle school and beyond, which makes much more difficult to recruit computer science students. This is especially true for women, who make up 25% or less of the computing workforce. Preparing teachers to teach computer science at the entry level will help grow our workforce and make it more diverse.”

According to code.org, there are currently more than 500,000 computer science jobs nationwide, including more than 3,000 in Mississippi. The Mississippi Computer Science and Cyber ​​Education Equity Act, passed by the Mississippi Legislature and signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves, requires the Mississippi Department of Education to implement a mandatory K-12 computer science curriculum that includes instruction in such as computational thinking, cybersecurity, data science, robotics, etc. The bill included $1 million in state funding for computer science training, which was matched by $1 million in private funding from C Spire.

MSU has been working with the Mississippi Department of Education for several years to develop computer science curricula. These efforts, led initially by the university’s Division of Research and Curriculum and later by the Center for Cyber ​​Education, included a successful pilot computer science educator training program for Mississippi. In 2019, MSU’s College of Education began offering computer science endorsements for prospective educators.

As part of legislation passed last year, the Center for Cyber ​​Education continues its work with the state to develop computer science curriculum and delivery options, as well as teacher training. This summer’s training took place in Tupelo, Cleveland, Floodwood and Gulfport, with each participating school district sending six teachers who were then able to return to their schools and train other teachers, encouraging participants to “champion” computer science for their peers and their students, Hollis said.

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship university, accessible online at www.msstate.edu.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.