The STEM+C (Computational Thinking) Project is OFF and Running!

The STEM+C (Computational Thinking) Project is OFF and Running!

The STEM Center research team is OFF and running! Exploring Global Challenges: A STEM+C Curriculum for Minority Girls, supported by the National Science Foundation, launched last week. The program integrates computational thinking (CT) in an after-school, student-centered learning program in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The program’s goal is to strengthen minority girls’ learning and potentially alter career intentions and preparation.

The SIUE STEM Center Research team includes Sharon Locke, PhD, director of the SIUE STEM Center, Georgia Bracey, PhD, research assistant professor. Matt Johnson is the curriculum expert and Henriette Burns is the new STEM Fellow and research lead. Samantha Murphy, clinical psychology, is providing support as our graduate assistant.

To kick off the program, two groups of girls from underrepresented populations in grades two through six, and three educators, shared their perceptions of who computer users are, worked on “An Hour of Code,” and learned scientific inquiry and SCRATCH (a block-based software). Initial interviews of twenty-five out of twenty-eight girls reflect their excitement about being in the STEM+C program- “doing, building things and learning about computers.” Everyone on the team has worked hard to launch the program and the team is now feeling successful. After the first lesson, the educators shared “how happy they were to work with such a talented, kind, and giving group of researchers.”

In between lessons, Matt Johnson, is conducting teacher training to help the educators better instruct and scaffold student STEM and computational thinking skills. Matt is uniquely qualified to lead this effort. He is the brainchild of the project, a former science teacher in the area, a computer science graduate student, and responsible for curriculum design for numerous STEM Center projects. Check back with our website to see how the project progresses!

Feature image from Diary of a Geeky Teacher (www.geekyteacher.blog).

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