UW to train teachers in comp. science | People


The University of Wyoming received a grant from the National Science Foundation to provide model computer science programs specifically designed for schools in rural communities.

The three-year, $ 600,000 grant will be awarded to four UW computer science faculty members, one UW College of Education faculty member, and UW researchers and graduate students. They will lead 12 Wyoming high school teachers through a six-week research experience this summer. The objectives are: to advance computer research in the topical fields of artificial intelligence and high performance computing; machine learning for security; augmented reality / virtual reality; and cybersecurity.

Wyoming teachers, working with 12 partner school districts, will have virtual access to resources. The program, called Wyoming Supporting Teachers and Computing Knowledge, will provide additional resources for teachers and their students as needed.

The program is innovative in that it removes the barriers many rural communities face in accessing computers, said computer science professor Mike Borowczak, who leads the core research team at WySTACK for UW.

“The goal is to bridge the existing digital divide and show what collaboration and a group of partners can do to uplift our communities,” Borowczak said. “Through it all, the ultimate goal is for educators in Wyoming to collaborate with computer science teachers to bring new knowledge into the field of computing and return to their classrooms to engage, arouse and inspire. the interest of their local communities. ”

Andrea Burrows, WySTACK Co-Principal Investigator, leads a team, which includes two community college faculty members, to help participating teachers translate and integrate their computer science research into modules, lessons, and engagements for their own. classroom.

In addition to Burrows, professor and associate dean at the College of Education, other co-principal investigators are Amy Banic, associate professor of computer science at UW; and Diksha Shukla and Lars Kotthoff, both assistant professors of computer science at UW. Commercial and industrial partners are also involved.

The grant, one of 10 such grants to be awarded this year, will eventually hire 36 high school teachers and two Northwest College faculty members over a three-year period. The grant could directly reach over 7,200 high school students in science, technology, engineering and math.

“New aspects of this proposal include a comprehensive virtual experience – dealing with the digital divide and rural access – and an approach that allows teachers to gain experience in research as a method for learning computer and bring it back to their classroom in the fall, ”Borowczak said. “This is a pure research grant that involves high school teachers.”

Uniquely, WySTACK provides open access to everyone – educators, businesses, parents, and students – through existing partnerships with the Wyoming State Library System. Dissemination of co-developed research in high quality peer-reviewed journals and conferences complements other activities.

“Rather than restricting research activity or access to research facilities to a geographic area, we are leveraging the communications infrastructure within the state,” says Borowczak.

A WySTACK website will be built in the future. For now, more information can be found at uwyo.edu/wystack.

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