Santa Fe Institute

Computer science, modeling program to reach 1,200 New Mexico students

Oct. 23, 2012 10:19 a.m.

Thirty New Mexico teachers and their students will learn computational modeling and computer science as part of a new education program sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

As part of a three-year, $1 million NSF grant titled "New Mexico Computer Science for All," SFI and the University of New Mexico's Computer Science Department will develop and offer an online course that prepares middle school and high school teachers to teach a new introductory computational modeling and computer science curriculum.

The curriculum is unique in using computational modeling of complex systems as inroads to learning computer science.

The spring 2013 semester course for 30 teachers will be conducted through UNM's online course system. Next summer, UNM and SFI will co-sponsor a workshop at which the teachers will learn and practice new modeling- and complex-systems-inspired approaches to teaching computer science to high school students.

In fall 2013, UNM and the participating teachers will offer a new, dual-credit hybrid course for 600 students. The course sequence will be repeated in 2014, reaching an additional 30 teachers and 600 students.

"These courses will not be the normal entry level courses in computer science, which emphasize programming, but rather, they will use computer modeling and simulation to explore the wide range of issues that computer science can address," said UNM Computer Science Professor Emeritus Ed Angel. "As its name implies, 'New Mexico CS for ALL' is designed to appeal to a wide range of students, including young women and other groups who are under-represented in computer science."

The project is part of a nationwide NSF effort to attract and prepare 10,000 new teachers of computer science by the year 2015. A secondary goal is to excite middle school and high school students about computer science through engaging activities that tie computer science to addressing issues students care about.

The “New Mexico Computer Science for All” program is led by SFI’s Irene Lee, UNM’s Angel, and UNM Computer Science Associate Professor David Ackley, a frequent SFI collaborator.

Read the University of New Mexico news release

Read the article in the Las Cruces Sun-Times (March 25, 2013)

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