Why the Integrated Computer Sciences Project is Important
You’ve probably heard something about STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and STEAM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Why are they so important? The science, technology, engineering, arts and math fields provide a path to academic excellence and to a lifetime of opportunity for students.
The National Science Foundation’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program supports the research and development of innovative models for engaging K-12 students in authentic experiences that build their capacity to participate in STEM fields. The foundation is funding the integrated Computer Science Project’s effort to help educators find new ways to incorporate computer science into their curricula.
Computer science has gained in popularity among K-12 educators, and by focusing on a project-based approach that combines various disciplines, the iCS project will determine if elementary and primary computer science can be an essential part of high-quality instruction that supports STEM learning for today’s diverse K-12 student population.
Studies show that U.S. K-12 educators seek guidance on how to integrate computer science within state-wide educational standards. The empirically tested curricula developed via iCS will provide much needed support for integrated computer science instruction in the elementary grades. The project also will be a way for teachers to develop and share new project-based lessons and units of study with teachers in Georgia and other states.
The benefits of computer-science skills developed through making digital tools are well known. They lead to a range of skills such as reasoning, creativity, motivation for learning, persistence, and the ability to apply knowledge to novel situations. Who knows? This project may lead to Georgia’s next generation of scientists and engineers, computer experts and artists. It may already be working. At an Exhibit Night to see what her daughter has been learning, one mother remarked, “She used to want to be a princess. Now she wants to be a scientist.”