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Building Capacity for Computer Science Teaching in a Rural State

Overview:

Developing computer science teachers who can support high school students in being successful in rigorous, academic computer science courses is a national need, particularly in rural communities. This project aims to permanently increase the capacity of the state of Maine to offer high quality computer science instruction. The STEM-C (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, including Computing) Partnerships program supports research-driven partnerships between STEM experts and K-12 school systems to bring about institutional change for better STEM education at the K-12 level. This STEM-C Partnerships Computer Science Expansion project builds on a previously successful Partnership and now works to infuse high quality computer science curriculum and teaching into high schools across Maine. Over a three-year period, this Partnership will support seventy-five current teachers of mathematics in becoming computer science teachers. The Partnership supporting this project is comprised of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, the University of Maine at Augusta, and Regional School Unit RSU #26 (Orono, Maine), with support from the Maine Department of Education, the University of California Los Angeles Exploring Computer Science project, the Computer Science Teachers' Association, the IEEE K-12 STEM Literacy Committee, and industry partners.


Curriculum will be developed to train mostly current teachers of mathematics so that they will be able to offer the Exploring Computer Science (ECS) course to high school level students. This ECS course will be developed around Maine employers and the ways in which computer science is used across sectors in the state of Maine, including Axiom Technologies, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, Jackson Laboratory, Kepware Technologies, and L.L.Bean. A Computer Science Teaching Methods course will be developed and made available online through the University of Maine at Augusta. The project will build knowledge through its research effort related to the following question: How can industry examples of computer science principles support teachers' ability to apply these principles to relevant contexts? Moreover, the work of the Partnership will result in the development of a model for rural states to sustainably provide computer science professional development, as well as give rise to institutionalization of a rigorous in-service training course for prospective computer science teachers. The project evaluation contains formative and summative evaluation of teacher impact and partnership growth. Major contributions of this project include: a) informing the statewide process of examining technology and mathematics curricula and considering ways to incorporate computer science in those curricula; b) significantly increasing the capacity of the state to offer computer science statewide; and c) potentially inspiring new models for workplace-based curriculum.