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UW helps bring nearly $1 million to Equality State to support computer science push

UW helps bring nearly $1 million to Equality State to support computer science push

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STEM

Becky Byer, a math and computer science teacher at Kelly Walsh, works with Jonah Blom during a computer science class in November 2017. A National Science Foundation grant of nearly $1 million will help educators throughout the state teach the subject.

$1M grant helps push computer science

Thanks to a grant written by the University of Wyoming, the Equality State will receive nearly $1 million over the next three years to better prepare educators here to teach computer science.

The Legislature passed a bill in winter 2018 that required computer science be taught in all Wyoming schools, the first change to the state’s basket of goods — the subjects that students must learn — since the basket’s inception. Since the passage of the bill, school districts and the state Department of Education have busied themselves trying to implement it by 2022.

This grant, from the National Science Foundation, is the latest such effort. Sponsored by the university, the grant will help establish WySLICE, according to a UW press release, which stands for Wyoming’s Schools and Libraries Integrating Computer Science Education.

The goal, according to UW, is to prepare 150 elementary and middle school teachers “from all disciplines” and to help them “integrate computer science into their curricula.”

“The community enlists K-8 teachers from across the state to experience professional development and collaborate on integrating computer science into their instruction of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and social science topics,” according to the press release. “The curricula involve cybersecurity as well as other topics, including the use of technology in social concerns such as voting.”

“Computer science is rapidly becoming a need-to-know competency for all,” said UW professor Mike Borowczak, who helped write the grant application and will help run the project. “WySLICE will study how to enable our students and communities to be exposed to fundamental computer science concepts in an integrated fashion that goes beyond just programming.”

WySLICE is the latest in a slew of efforts across the state to better prepare Wyoming’s sprawling education system to begin fully offering computer science in a few years. In summer 2018, for instance, UW hosted a computer science camp for K-12 teachers.

Earlier this year, Microsoft wrote the state education department a $95,000 grant that, among other things, will help train teachers across the state.

Follow education reporter Seth Klamann on Twitter @SethKlamann

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Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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