The Download A Monthly Update on the NC Computer Science Initiative. (Back to School Theme: September 2021)

Importance of Computer Science Education: Where STEM Context and Careers Meet

STEM jobs represent one of the fastest-growing opportunities in our economy, and students need the skills to qualify for these jobs.

STEM jobs represent one of the fastest-growing opportunities in our economy, leaping past other careers. These jobs in the science, technology, engineering and math fields often pay better than other jobs for workers with the same level of education, and there is a shortage of young people pursuing these paths, in the public and private sectors. Despite all of these reasons to pursue a STEM degree, a recent Pew Research Center survey found, "only a third of workers (33%) ages 25 and older with at least a bachelor's degree have an undergraduate degree in a STEM field." With a network of 20,000-plus schools throughout North America, EVERFI delivers digital resources that help teachers equip students with the skills they need to succeed.

STEM jobs' rapid growth is why it's so vital that young people have a strong grasp of the STEM skills needed to fill these jobs and thrive in their adult lives. It is this disconnect between professional opportunities and students' pursuit of these jobs that compels Washington, D.C.-based education technology company EVERFI to invest in developing STEM career exploration resources.

Read more here

Computer Science Education is important to today’s modern, digital society.

The Computer Science Field is one of the most fastest growing and highest paying career paths in the world. However, there is a diminishing supply of teachers and students interested in Computer Science. This is largely based on how exposed students are to technology and resources as well as whether or not the students are being encouraged to explore the world of computer science.

It’s important to expose students, however the main focus with computer science has been on white students. There has been a lack of focus on girls, blacks, and hispanic students. In fact, black students are more likely to not have classes dedicated to computer science than white students. This lack of resources and teachers teaching computer science creates a educational gap between white males and colored/female students.

With the digital age rising, there is a need to develop logical thinking and problem-solving which are all a part of the computer science curriculum. Students, regardless of interested field, must be avid in using computers whether it be to create a file, write a report, or researching a certain subject. Not to mention that the job openings with knowledge of computer science is growing in every industry and every state; job opening are projected to grow twice the rate of any job.

Find out more at here


Grants + Computer Science Exploration Resources

FIRST LEGO League Discover Grant 2021-2022

Ignite curiosity with playful learning through the FIRST LEGO League Discover Program. This grant provides teachers with the tools and resources to lead early learners through 10 sessions as they explore STEM through play. These resources include scope and sequence options, which feature variations to customize activities to meet the learning needs of your students.

This grant is eligible to any school/teacher that will serve at least 80 students pre-K through 1st grade. Sessions may be run anytime between August 2021 to June 2022.

More details and the application can be found here.

If you have any questions, please contact Julia at education@firstnorthcarolina.org

Grant Recognizing a Student Making a Difference in Others’ Lives Pilot

Student Grant for Young Scholars

Photo retrieved from https://powertothepen.com/g2overachievers/

Pilot Pen recognizes everyday student heroes through its annual G2 Overachievers Student Grant, awarded to an outstanding young scholar between the ages of 13 and 19 who is making a real difference in others’ lives, outside of the classroom. Entrants submit a maximum of 2,500 handwritten words expressing what they, or a student they know, are doing to be a difference maker. The contest is intended to recognize students who are changing the world, their school, or their community through their selfless determination of giving back in a unique and impactful way (“Overachievers”). The actions of these Overachievers extend beyond the classroom and their extracurricular activities and make the world a better place. The grand prize is a grant in the amount of $12,500, awarded to a single Overachiever to enable the student to continue and expand on the success for which he or she is being recognized. The sponsor will also award $2,500 to the grand-prize winner’s school to help community Educator Overachievers too.

Deadline: Applications/nominations for G2 Overachievers Student Grant are due by November 15, 2021.

Information retrieved from Big Deal Media

Girls Re-Imagining Tomorrow (GRIT) Program

Find out more about GRIT! (Girls Re-Imagining Tomorrow) (For Middle Grades Girls)

GRIT started small – with one willing and able middle school near our corporate headquarters – and one group of executives passionate to make a difference. As interest in the program has grown – so too has the program itself. GRIT now exists in four cities across the U.S.

Each local GRIT team/program is organized under the leadership of volunteers from both ePlus and Cisco, in communities surrounding our respective office locations. Our volunteers work with local middle school officials to identify a select group of girls to participate in our 16-week program.

During this program, the girls will experience:

- Presentations by technology leaders and innovators both in their community and more broadly

- Field trips to local ePlus and Cisco offices for a ‘behind the scenes experience

- Demos and hands-on activities for a closer look at IT and cybersecurity in action

- Mentorship in the areas of public speaking, online safety, and stewardship skills, and business etiquette

Contact GRIT for more information: GRIT@eplus.com

PEARO: Providing Equitable Access to Robotics Opportunities

Photo retrieved from QUT Centre for Robotics

PEARO aims to establish and support FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams at high schools in western North Carolina. This project is funded by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund’s Student Science Enrichment Program (SSEP) with a grant to Western Carolina University. Through participation on an FRC team, students gain valuable knowledge and skills that will foster interest and excitement in pursuing a career in STEM. This 3-year grant will provide professional development for students and teachers, safety graining, tools and materials, as well as funds to cover hotel and transportation costs. Targeted counties include: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, Swain,Transylvania and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Nation. FRC is an evidence-based program with a measurable impact.

Active recruitment is underway for schools for participation in the 2021-2022 cohort. Additional information can be found at:


New Professional Learning Course for Fostering Creative Problem Solving

Photo retrieved from newandimproved.com

Adobe and Khan Academy have teamed up for the development of new, free online learning resources that foster creative and critical thinking skills to help all students reach their potential and ultimately be better prepared for college and career pathways. One of the early results of the partnership is a new course on the Adobe Exchange called Teach Creativity with Adobe and Khan Academy. The course includes more than 20 lessons, a hands-on assignment, and a certificate for 20 accredited professional learning hours. Throughout the year ahead, Khan Academy will be adding content in their teacher professional development courses, focusing on the importance of creative thinking and communication in STEM. Additionally, they will be creating 10 new videos and articles teaching students the importance of creative problem solving.

Information retrieved from Big Deal Media

Engineering and Computer Science Essentials™

Game-Changing Integrated STEM

Image retrieved from EiE Museum of Science

Explore Engineering and Computer Science Essentials™ and see how science, math, engineering, and computer science practices work together to help learners build problem-solving skills and resilience. Essentials promotes access, equity and excellence through fun, engaging classroom lessons.

From standards-aligned instructional materials, to classroom resources and companion storybooks, Essentials provides the support you need to teach engineering and computer science in flexible learning environments.

Computer Science and Engineering in Elementary? Without a doubt.

Introducing computer science and engineering to children early develops an understanding of the world around them and how to improve it. Exposure to both in elementary ensures more equity in learning as children start to gain awareness and interest in STEM early on. This early exposure can help put them a STEM learning pathway and lead to future careers that they might not have considered.

Using the Engineering Design Process and our engineering Habits of Mind as the foundation, Essentials opens up access to STEM for all learners. High impact Resources for Diverse Learners level the playing field for all students with vocabulary supports; scaffolding to create context and build background; guidance for different learning styles; and support for learners to express understanding in multiple ways. Linked by engaging storybook characters from around the world and grade-level appropriate concepts, this integrated program creates a learning environment where students can move seamlessly from engineering to computer science units as they become more creative problem solvers.

Explore Engineering and Computer Science Essentials: An Integrated Program

Information retrieved from EiE Museum of Science

NASA Challenge Launching the Innovators of Tomorrow

Image retrieved from Big Deal Data

Are you ready to get hands-on with a NASA project in the 2021–22 school year? On August 18, the NASA TechRise Student Challenge will start accepting entries. Teachers are welcome to preregister, and NASA will email TechRise content, including curricula, summer workshops, and events as they become available. From remote sensing and climate research to microgravity experiments and technologies to explore the Moon, schools are invited to join NASA in its mission to advance space exploration and enhance our knowledge of Earth. This next school year, students in grades 6–12 at a US public, private, or charter school are invited to team up with their schoolmates and design a research or technology experiment for a suborbital rocket or a high-altitude balloon with exposure to Earth’s atmosphere and views of the planet. Fifty-seven winning schools will be awarded $1,500 to develop their proposed experiment. The winning experiment will also be assigned a spot on a NASA-sponsored flight. The winner’s package is inclusive of a 3D-printed Flight Box to use to build the experiment. Teachers can learn more about the challenge by joining the NASA TechRise Educator Workshop on August 11, 2021, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. (ET).

Deadlines: Entry period opens, August 18, 2021; entry period closes, November 3, 2021; winners announced, January 21, 2022; experiments completed, summer 2022; experiments launch, early 2023

Information retrieved from Big Deal Media

App That Helps Students Dive into Black History Using AR

Image retrieved from Big Deal Data

Immersive technology lets students learn about Black historical figures on their phones. The nonprofit educational technology firm Movers & Shakers NYC has created the free mobile app Kinfolk that transports students to an augmented reality (AR) space where they can walk up to virtual “monuments” of 10 famous Black historical figures and learn their stories. Students can hear a narration about these individuals, read their biographies, look at artifacts from the historical figures’ lives, and learn about the time period in which they lived and their accomplishments. Early in the design process, Movers & Shakers NYC partnered with the Langston League to involve educators and students. The mobile app and accompanying curriculum serve as a jumping-off point for teachers and students, allowing them to delve into topics that span the whole canon of Black history. The idea is that students will be inspired to go on a scavenger hunt through the primary source archives to learn more. While the app is open to the public through the Google and Apple app stores, the Movers & Shakers team is working with schools to bring the AR app to students. The team will launch another app, Unsung, a multiplayer AR learning experience that will highlight four Black women singers. The Unsung app will be released by Verizon to 100 Title I middle schools nationwide later this fall. Cost: Kinfolk app is free; price to be determined for Unsung app

Information retrieved from Big Deal Media

From African Fractals to Adinka Computing—Culturally Situated STEM+C Activities

Image retrieved from Big Deal Data

The mission of the Culturally Situated Design Tools (CSDTs) team is to improve education, justice, and equity through new STEM+C educational methods. By eliminating misconceptions about race and gender in STEM+C, engaging students, and aiding teachers, CSDTs can simultaneously be used to teach science, empower students, and change perspectives. Growing out of the field of ethnomathematics, CSDTs were initially developed as a series of Java applets that teachers could use to engage diverse students on math topics. As Java applets were phased out of use, CSDTs were switched to build on Snap, adding new core components to incorporate culture (CSnap), and expanded to include computer science and general science topics. From Native beadwork to urban graffiti, students can find the “heritage algorithms” of their interest, learn their connection to STEM principles, and develop their own designs. Teachers can shift their curriculum to include coding the curves of Adinkra symbols created by the Ashanti people of Ghana using Scratch programs and calculating the arcs found in Anishinaabe Native American architecture. Students can examine visuals from these cultures and use math as a way to explore intricate designs. The patterns and symbols and circles—all of which represent nature, represent honor—represent where they come from—have embedded mathematics in them.”

Information retrieved from Big Deal Media

Tools for Creating a Wellness-Informed Environment for Students

Image retrieved from Big Deal Media

Inspirational quotes and food trucks won’t solve burnout, stress, and anxiety. Teachers need information and tools for handling challenges in their personal and professional lives. Pathways to Wellness is a comprehensive, research-based, teacher-first professional development program for preK–12 educators, delivered in a format that works for teachers: self-paced, online, three hours … with a 98% recommendation rate. The program provides a framework for proactively building resilience, gives actionable mental wellness strategies for personal life and the classroom environment, equips educators with language for conflict resolution (with coworkers and students), and delivers high value at a low cost for school communities.

Information retrieved from Big Deal Media

App Illuminating Math and Science in a New Way

Image retrieved from Big Deal Media

Whether users want to hone their quantitative skills or improve their knowledge of science and technology, the Brilliant app for iOS and Android devices creates inspiring, interactive learning experiences for children and adults alike. Award-winning teachers, researchers, and professionals illuminate math, science, and computer science through engaging, bite-sized problem-solving explorations. The entertaining and educational course library suits beginners but also includes intermediate and advanced topics for professionals and lifelong learners. Users can take a guided tour through an interactive exploration of concepts and principles. With free, curated weekly problems, they can gain timeless knowledge and apply their problem-solving skills. They can also discuss their favorite solutions with an engaged community of lifelong learners. Cost: Free, with in-app purchases offered

Information retrieved from Big Deal Media

Enlightening Articles + Videos

NC Student Spotlight, Computing & STEM based Articles, Enlightening Videos, and September Book of the Month!

STEAM Quest: Story-based Activity Book | Initiative and Service Project

Read to learn about a North Carolina based student run initiative working to promote STEAM education, provide opportunities to underrepresented youth, and make change in multiple communities around the world.

Starting in February, a student named Ahmya Rivera located in Elizabeth City, NC wanted to utilize her knowledge of STEAM while assisting underrepresented communities. After a while of assessing some ideas, she found the one she was most passionate about and set off on her journey. This journey being, the writing of a children's book "Steam Quest: Story-based Activity book". After two months and a full summer of erasing, changing up lines, creating characters, etc. the words of the book were finalized. This book is not only unique, it is impactful.

Ahmya's book will provide students a "New leader to look up to", advice she received personally from famous children's book author Brad Meltzer. Not only this, it provides students an accessible way to get immersed in S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) through interactive activity pages.

The book is unique and will be as accessible as possible. Here's how…

-The book will come in different formats and languages. So students who speak different languages or are visually impaired can partake in the book.

-There are aspirations to donate "STEAM packages" to NC youth. These packages will include the book and all the items needed to complete the activity pages. Assisting with the barrier of lower income students not being able to buy the book.

And much more…

The author is currently seeking support in this initiative! Whether it be through sharing on social media, donation, publication, etc. Any support is appreciated. View the website, contact, or donate through this link: https://beacons.ai/steamquest

The author was interviewed by "Education Reimagined'' about the book and her story! Click here to read.

The history of computing is both evolution and revolution

Author: Justin Zobel

Photo retrieved from The Incubator Nigeria

It is a truism that computing continues to change our world. It shapes how objects are designed, what information we receive, how and where we work, and who we meet and do business with. And computing changes our understanding of the world around us and the universe beyond.

For example, while computers were initially used in weather forecasting as no more than an efficient way to assemble observations and do calculations, today our understanding of weather is almost entirely mediated by computational models.

Another example is biology. Where once research was done entirely in the lab (or in the wild) and then captured in a model, it often now begins in a predictive model, which then determines what might be explored in the real world.

The transformation that is due to computation is often described as digital disruption. But an aspect of this transformation that can easily be overlooked is that computing has been disrupting itself.

Read more here


Photo retrieved from Community College Daily

Why is STEM so important? During the next five years, major American companies will need to add nearly 1.6 million employees. Of those, 945,000 will need at least basic STEM literacy and 635,000 will need advanced STEM knowledge1. Despite the evidence that the core cognitive knowledge, skills, and abilities associated with STEM education are in demand for nearly all occupations2, many American students conclude early in their academic careers that STEM subjects are boring, too difficult, or unwelcoming. This leaves them ill prepared to meet the challenges that face their generation and our country3.

One key indicator determining high school graduates’ pursuit of STEM in higher education is their interest in STEM when they enter high school4. A holistic STEM career preparation strategy, implemented early, can help students develop their vision for a

STEM future in the middle school years, setting them on a path toward long- term STEM learning. At the heart of an effective strategy is the development of a strong STEM context among all students. By that, we mean promoting an environment where every student feels supported and capable of developing STEM competencies.

Millions of educators work diligently to bring STEM concepts to life to develop 21st century competencies, such as problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration. Students are required to take math, and to a lesser extent science, classes throughout middle and high school, but the relevancy and opportunity of excelling in these fields seems non-existent for many students. This report uses likert-scale survey responses collected in the 2017/18 school year from over 13,000 students from 45 states and the District of Columbia enrolled in EVERFI’s Endeavor - STEM Career ExplorationTM course to get a better sense of this persistent challenge. Our goal is to better understand how a “STEM context” relates to a student’s awareness of STEM in their surrounding world, their perception of whether or not they can be successful in these academic areas and whether or not they plan to pursue a STEM career. Put plainly, do students see STEM opportunities around them and do they perceive the STEM potential within themselves?

Continue reading article here

Reimagining Computer Science Education

Posted by: KaporCenter

Teachers Have Been Amazing This Year

Posted by: John Spencer

Book of The Month

"Stuck In the Shallow End" Book Cover

Why so few African American and Latino/a students study computer science: updated edition of a book that reveals the dynamics of inequality in American schools.

The number of African Americans and Latino/as receiving undergraduate and advanced degrees in computer science is disproportionately low. And relatively few African American and Latino/a high school students receive the kind of institutional encouragement, educational opportunities, and preparation needed for them to choose computer science as a field of study and profession. In Stuck in the Shallow End, Jane Margolis and coauthors look at the daily experiences of students and teachers in three Los Angeles public high schools: an overcrowded urban high school, a math and science magnet school, and a well-funded school in an affluent neighborhood. They find an insidious “virtual segregation” that maintains inequality.

The race gap in computer science, Margolis discovers, is one example of the way students of color are denied a wide range of occupational and educational futures.Stuck in the Shallow End is a story of how inequality is reproduced in America―and how students and teachers, given the necessary tools, can change the system. Since the 2008 publication of Stuck in the Shallow End, the book has found an eager audience among teachers, school administrators, and academics. This updated edition offers a new preface detailing the progress in making computer science accessible to all, a new postscript, and discussion questions (coauthored by Jane Margolis and Joanna Goode).

Overview retrieved from mitpress.mit.edu

Thank You!

Come Back Again Next Month!

Created by: Johna Speller & Ahmya Rivera (NC DPI Computer Science and Technology Education Interns)

For more information about the NC Computer Science Initiative, contact our team:

Director of Academic Standards - Mary Hemphill-Joseph Ph.D., mary.hemphill@dpi.nc.gov

Computer Science Chief Administrator - Sheneka Brightwell, Sheneka.revis@dpi.nc.gov