NM TechWorks teams with CSTA-NM to support the first CSPD Week of Computer Science Professional Development for Teachers in New Mexico!
Almost 200 hundred teachers attended Computer Science Professional Development (CSPD) week at the University of New Mexico from June 4 to June 8 for training in eight different strands in how to teach computer science from elementary to high school.
CSPD week was joint hosted by the Computer Science Teachers’ Association of New Mexico and New Mexico Techworks with support from many local and national organizations including Air Force Research Labs, Sandia Labs, LANL, LANL Foundation, Oracle, and more.
Beginning at 7.30 AM Monday, teachers from all around New Mexico convened in the University of New Mexico’s School of Engineering.
Code.org, Oracle Academy, Bootstrap and Texas Instruments, Project GUTS, CS Afterschool Arduino, and NM CS for All, taught a curriculum tailored to integrate computer science into math or science classes for elementary, middle school, and high school teachers.
Paige Prescott, president of Computer Science Teachers’ Association of New Mexico, and Dr Christos Christodoulou, dean of University of New Mexico’s School of Engineering, opened CSPD week. Both highlighted the lack of computer science in schools around New Mexico and the need to grow New Mexico’s economy through tech development and computer science.
“Only 40 high schools in New Mexico offer computer science right now,” Prescott said. “This week is aimed to make teachers pioneers of computer science and to increase its offerings in school.”
Professional educators were brought in to teach a specific curriculum for each of the eight strands for five days. The strands focused on different areas and different levels of computer science education. The training focuses on teaching teachers how to integrate computer science into their classes and to increase student engagement with computer science from an early. The long-term goal of this project is to increase the number of students taking computer science classes in high school and in university.
The Air Force Research Laboratory sponsored the STEM Matters Mixer on Thursday June 7 in the Explora children’s museum in Albuquerque. CSPD week aimed to create a network to share information and resources between computer science teachers. This social event was a part of that project to generate a community of interconnected computer science teachers in New Mexico.
“Employers have trouble finding qualified staff members,” said Matthew Fetrow, AFRL’s Technology Engagement Office Director.
Dr Steve Cox, an educator at Northern New Mexico College, engages his students in a mentorship program to teach them how to teach technology. Cox brought four of these students to CSPD week to teach teachers. “The self-confidence of the students grows when they know they know something that has currency in the world,” Cox said.
“My students know more than I do when it comes to computer science,” said Manuela Klaassen, a teacher at Alamogorda High School. “They help me troubleshoot when we have problems and I help them troubleshoot.”
This is the first year ever in New Mexico in which five computer science classes will count towards math or science credits in high school. Prescott hopes that computer science will one day be a mandatory class for graduation.
The Computer Science Teachers’ Association of New Mexico conducted research on computer science classes in schools around New Mexico. It found that in 2017 less than one per-cent of high school students took a computer science class.