Florida College Receives Grant to Teach Computer Science

The University of North Florida will use funds from the National Science Foundation to prepare 30 high school educators through professional development and coursework leading to state certification in computer science.

by Times-Union Staff / September 30, 2019

(TNS) — Two University of North Florida professors received a grant for over $290,000 from the National Science Foundation to help prepare high school educators to better teach computer science.

Brian Zoellner, an associate professor in the College of Education and Human Services, and William Klostermeyer, a professor and interim dean of the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction, were award recipients.

"This grant represents a synergistic collaboration between the UNF colleges of Education and Human Services as well as Computing, Engineering and Construction with the Duval County Public School District," said Simon Rhodes, UNF provost and vice president of academic affairs. "The project will improve the readiness of secondary educators to teach computer science to high school students. We're proud of research-based activities like this that have such a positive impact on our community."

With the money, UNF will implement Teachers Enhancing Computational Thinking (TECt): Preparing Northeast Florida's Secondary Teachers to Foster Computational Thinking in Computer Science, a program designed to build on current collaborative initiatives to prepare 30 teachers to teach computer science courses through professional development and coursework leading to state certification in computer science.

The progam will engage multiple partners from the university, Duval County public schools and the Northeast Florida STEM2 Hub, along with computer science teachers and experts in education, computer science and business.

"Our major goal is to support area computer science teachers as they work to deliver high-quality curriculum in their schools across the county," said Zoellner, principal grant investigator and a Westside resident.

Although a state certification exists for K-12 computer science instructors, no local colleges or universities offer teacher certification programs. As a result, few teachers can become fully prepared educators in this area and few students are exposed to meaningful computer science instruction.

The UNF program will change that.

Klostermeyer, the grant co-principal investigator and a Ponte Vedra Beach resident, will be preparing coursework, teaching the first of the classes to area computer science high school teachers. He taught a pilot course last spring to about 15 Duval teachers and has been working with the teachers and Duval County for about two years.

©2019 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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