300 K-12 computer science educators come to Mines

Tim Bell, founder of CS Unplugged, addresses CSPd Week.More than 300 K-12 educators are at Colorado School of Mines this week as part of an effort to get computer science curriculum into more classrooms nationwide.

CSPd Week, the only cross-curricular computer science professional development event of its kind in the U.S., got underway July 17 and continues through July 21 on the Mines campus.

Now in its second year, CSPd Week brings together K-12 educators from across the U.S. for a week of hands-on professional development through one of five programs: Bootstrap, Exploring Computer Science, Advanced Placement (AP) CS Principles, AP CS-A and Counselors for Computing.

The all-expenses-paid training, hosted by Mines, is sponsored by Infosys Foundation USA, with support from the National Science Foundation, National Center for Women & IT and Computer Science Teachers Association.

“We just have so many teachers who need to learn about computer science so they can teach their students,” said Tracy Camp, professor and head of the Computer Science Department at Colorado School of Mines and part of CSPd Week’s leadership team.

Diversity is a key goal of CSPd Week, Camp said, with teachers and counselors of color and those who serve students in rural districts, American Indian students, students with disabilities, low-income students, students of color and LGBTQ students particularly encouraged to apply.

“Like a lot of skills, whether it’s music or reading and writing, if you start early and work on it for a long time, you’re much more likely to be confident in it. By having computer science in schools, it really opens up access to underrepresented groups,” said Tim Bell, professor at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury and founder of CS Unplugged, a collection of free learning activities that teach the principles of computer science, all without the use of a computer.

Bell gave a keynote address to kick off the event July 17. In New Zealand, students will be taught computer science starting in Grade 1 beginning next year, he said, the country joining a growing global movement to require CS education starting at a young age. In the U.S., a number of states and cities are making similar pushes, including San Francisco and New York.

“Computer science is happening in schools, high schools and elementary schools, throughout the country but a lot of teachers don’t even know where to start. You have to teach algorithm, you have to teach coding—I call them the ABCs of scary words: algorithm, binary and coding,” Bell said. “Events like these give them a really friendly way of doing that.”

View photos from the event in the Flickr slideshow below, or by visiting bit.ly/cspdweek2017.

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 | erusch@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public research university focused on science and engineering, where students and faculty together address the great challenges society faces today - particularly those related to the Earth, energy and the environment.