As a part of the Computer Science for All initiative, the National Science Foundation is supplementing UTCS professor Calvin Lin’s grant to expand his high school Computer Science Principles course. The goal of Lin’s project is to train teachers to offer the course, UTeach CS, to high school students and encourage interest in computer science learning. The project started out four years ago with a dual enrollment course offered by a handful of teachers, and it has expanded to include an AP CS Principles course that has spread across the country, with 280 new high school teachers trained to offer the course this year.
The course uses a teaching technique called project-based learning pedagogy in which students learn by working in teams to solve problems.
“It has a lot more critical thinking and other skills that we want our college graduates to have,” Lin said. “Even if students don’t end up majoring in computer science, some of the skills that they learn from this class should help them succeed later in life.”
This CS Principles course is implemented by the UTeach Institute, which supports STEM education around the country, The project-based learning pedagogy found in the CS Principles course prepares students for college-level courses by developing teamwork and critical thinking skills.
One of the major goals of Lin’s project is to appeal to a more diverse group of students, including women and minorities, and get them interested in computer science at an earlier age.
“The way this course works is it’s not a hardcore Java programming course,” Lin said. “It tries to show people what the power and beauty and joy of computing can be, and lets students imagine how they might be able to use computer science to change the world.