Students and faculty from across Maine showcased their computer science expertise at the Computer Science Education Showcase at the Maine Department of Education at Roux Institute. The showcase highlights innovative computer science education programs in schools throughout Maine, with hands on, interactive exhibits showcasing robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), 3D design and printing, coding, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), data science, cybersecurity, and more.
Maine has long been at the forefront of combining technology and learning, and that’s true of computer science education. Instead of computer science being a separate course taken only by a few students or an “additional”, Maine provides support and resources to encourage all schools to provide interdisciplinary, project -based experiences. in the study of computer science which includes computational and critical thinking, innovation and design. processes, and applied learning at all grade levels and in all subject areas.
The Computer Science Education Showcase illustrates the state’s approach, with VR headsets taking users to Maine State Parks developed by a student last summer, 3D printing demonstrations, a full-size arcade game created by students, 6th graders demonstrating their block coding skills, a wide range of apps and websites around areas with a variety of student-created content, and a room in robotics with world champion level robotics teams. All Pre-K through 12 grade levels are represented, with teachers highlighting how they incorporate computer science education into the younger grade levels, including getting students into the 5th grade. with kindergarten students to teach them basic coding skills and a new mobile makerspace to rotate between. elementary schools offering computer science education for Pre-K through fifth grade students.
Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin, University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, 2022 Presidential Scholar Sirohi Kumar, Bethel second grade teacher Alice Lee, Jackson Labs Vice President for Education Charlie Wray, and Roux Institute Chief Administrative Officer Chris Mallett participated in a panel discussion on how Maine can pave the way for students and faculty to succeed in the world of computer science. The discussion focused on reaching more students, making computer science more accessible to all, taking an interdisciplinary approach to computer science education, and how critical and computational thinking, collaboration, and creative design skills developed through computer science education critical to near success. every career and life of the 21st century.
“Computer science is about approaching a problem with optimism, logic, critical thinking, design thinking, creativity and vision. We need to make computer science accessible for every teacher and every student. and continue this tradition we started in Maine of interdisciplinary, project -based computer science education in all grades that is truly contextual in a way that is meaningful for children, ” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin.
“It has this vision of computer science that it’s for an elite group, and really that’s not the case – it can be used for everyone including art, science, and music. I think education in computer science should be framed for everyone at such a young age that computer science can solve any problem or scenario you have no matter what this field is, ” said Sirohi Kumar a 2022 Presidential Scholar from Mount Desert Island.
“The more we can do computer science in Pre-K up to level 12, the better prepared everyone is for whatever comes after. These students here tonight are just getting started with these skills. It’s important. in your future, ” said University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy.
“Build those computer science skills at the youngest level — problem solving, debugging, innovation, and creativity. These basic skills are exactly what our young academic students need to acquire, ” said second -grade teacher Alice Lee from Bethel.
“We now live in a world immersed in big data and the amount of data being generated is so large that this next generation has this huge opportunity to enter many career fields where computer science has a touchpoint. It’s not just a software engineer or a computer scientist, but we can all learn and solve big data problems and the number of careers that come out of a good computer science education is endless, ” said Jackson Labs Vice President for Education Charlie Wray.
“This concept of computer science for everyone is important. These skills and literacy are no longer siloed; they work across the spectrum. The logic and reasoning that comes from computer science is paired with the creativity of a liberal education in art, it’s the intersection of these skills that we all have the potential to develop that will drive Maine’s economy and Maine’s workers into the future, ” said Roux Institute Chief Administrative Officer Chris Mallett.
The Maine Department of Education and the Mills administration continue to support and strengthen computer science education in Maine:
- The DOE continues to work with faculty, business leaders, and others to update and adapt Maine’s statewide computer science education plan and the Department’s work is guided by seven key principles;
- Governor Mills signed Governor Hutchison’s compact computer science;
- The DOE hired a computer science specialist to work in the schools and committed additional resources to support teachers and schools in integrating real, project-based Pre-K to 12 computer science education;
- Governor Mills signed a bill that provides $ 50,000 in professional learning support for computer science teachers, with an emphasis on teachers in rural areas and serving marginalized communities, and another $ 50,000 will be provided this coming school year;
- Next month’s Educator Summit will showcase many professional learning opportunities for computer science education teachers;
- The DOE developed their first Pre-K through 12 online computer science learning advances last year that focused on computational thinking and a new development will soon be launched; and
- The DOE has doubled the number of Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) Ambassadors working in schools to support the integration of technology and learning, including computer science education.