UNK CSIT Google CS4HS Grant

Computer Science Principles on the Prairie (CSPoP) program - Phase 2

UNK CSIT received funding from Google Inc. Fund of Tides Foundation, Google CS4HS program, for the phase 2 of the “Computer Science Principles on the Prairie” (CSPoP) program. This is second year of a program that consists of a face-to-face workshop, online coursework, and on-going community of practice activities to introduce K-12 teachers to computational thinking and the computer science “big ideas”, as outlined in the AP Computer Science Principles curriculum. The focus will be on incorporating these ideas into existing curriculum as well as in the development of computer science (CS)/ Information Technology (IT) courses for middle and high schools. This program also aims to connect teachers (especially rural teachers) with each other and with computer science experts at the university. (Teacher Welcome Kit is available here.)

Nebraska conferences/workshops for K-12 CS/IT Teachers:

For more information about this program, contact Dr. Sherri Harms atharmssk@unk.edu

NCE Introduction to CS Workshop

Participants in the Introduction to Computer Science Workshop at the NCE Conference will be reimbursed for the workshop fees.

The NCE conference will be in June 2018. Go to the NCE Conference website to register.

2017 Workshop Outline with links

Getting Started Programming: open the I Have a Dream Starter project in App Inventor.

Two quick extra Android tutorials that students may enjoy:

Online CSIT 834P IT Teaching Methods Course

K-12 teachers accepted to participate in this Google CS4HS program will learn the basics of app development (using App Inventor), computational thinking, and the computer science big seven ideas of creativity, algorithms and programming.

Participants enroll in an online graduate-level course, entitled CSIT 834P IT Teaching Methods.  This class is part of the UNK IT supplemental endorsement and the MSEd programs in Instructional Technology and Math/Science education. The course uses reading and assignments on CS/IT curricular issues, computational thinking concepts, and the computer science big seven ideas, especially Creativity, Abstraction, Data and Information, Algorithms, and Programming (using App Inventor and Scratch). The teachers design the curriculum and programming projects for their own classrooms.

The teachers are reimbursed the course tuition and fees – if they receive a B or above in the course. The teachers are expected to teach CS/IT content in their classes next year.

To sign up for this graduate course apply online by June 12th, 2018 at http://www.unk.edu/admissions/apply.php and choose the Graduate Non-degree option. UNK Application Fee is $45 plus tuition fee. Contact Carmen Brewer (brewerc@unk.edu) if you have any questions. 

The teachers are provided with a community of practice to meet online throughout the next year to exchange ideas and stories about what worked, etc. The professional community will be instrumental in keeping teachers engaged and supported throughout the year as they implement the curriculum developed through the workshop and online course over the summer.

IT Supplemental Endorsement - Completely online program

The IT Supplemental Endorsement BS and MS programs are offered by the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology and Department of Teacher Education.

  • MS-level IT Supplemental Endorsement program is fully online and is designed for current teachers
  • BS-level program is mostly online and is designed for pre-service teachers
  • Both programs meet the State of Nebraska IT supplemental endorsement requirements for teacher certification.
  • Designed for K-12 teachers to teach IT courses or provide IT support to their school district.
  • Focused on applying computational thinking and the CS/IT principles of creativity, abstraction, data and information, algorithms, programming, and global impact to age-appropriate curricular development

Teaching Resources

Google Community of resources for Nebraska K-12 teachers who teach coding or computational thinking

Introduction to CS resources:

CS Principles resources:

Google Resources

Apple's Everyone can code curriculum resources

Nebraska Resources:

Certification Information:

Computational Thinking resources:

CS curriculum for all levels of students: 

CS Advocacy:

Program Rationale

This CS4HS program is designed to develop teachers’ ability to integrate CS/IT teaching methodologies into their current classroom. Many rural Nebraska schools lack qualified teachers that can teach CS/IT classes. The ultimate goals of this project are tackling the IT workforce deficit in Greater Nebraska and making young people in rural Nebraska more IT-career ready, by helping interested rural Nebraska teachers develop CS/IT curriculum and helping them start on the path towards becoming certified to teach CS/IT courses, including AP and dual enrollment courses.

This project is important to the future economic development of rural Nebraska. In Central Nebraska, the demand for IT jobs is growing at three times the state average. The occupational employment projection for computer and mathematical occupations is projected to increase 16.1% from 2010-2020, with half of the growth in new positions. Nebraska's Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education website states: "Economic growth in Nebraska is limited by shortages of workers, especially those with technical training." According to a June 2013 report from the Nebraska Department of Labor, Office of Labor Market Information, in 2012, there were approximately 2,917 computing professionals in Central Nebraska.  The Nebraska Workforce Trends for October 2012 discusses the ten-year outlook for occupational projections. It states: "Computer and Mathematical Occupations are expected to experience high growth of 16.94 percent, (adding 462 jobs in Central Nebraska), with half of the growth in new positions. The fastest growing occupation within this category is Software Developers of Systems Software adding 719 jobs in Nebraska and growing by 29.77 percent. Database Administrators and Network and Computer Systems Administrators are also expected to experience strong growth of 23.68 percent and 22.24 percent."  

Based on data from the NE Department of Education, out of the 63 high schools and 81 middle schools in Central Nebraska, only nine schools offer some IT-related course. Six offer a programming course; four offer a networking systems course; one offers a PC support course; and one offers an IT support course. Some of these schools are quite small (such as Plainview HS), indicating that it can be done by schools of all sizes.  Schools in Western and Northern Nebraska are even more rural than Central Nebraska, and offer even fewer CS/IT offerings.

Before a person can enter the IT workforce, s/he must first be aware of IT careers and then complete an IT-related educational program. As a primarily agricultural area, many students are not aware of the potential for an IT career in rural Nebraska, or even what IT professionals do. When advanced computing isn't taught in the schools, or doesn’t count toward graduation requirements, then fewer students are likely to be exposed to computer science concepts. This lack of experience hinders interest in a CS major when students enter college. IT career awareness and CS/IT education in K-12 is essential to growing the IT work force in rural Nebraska. 

This program is based on the idea that all teachers are needed to be ambassadors for increasing CS/IT concepts into our educational system. In small rural schools that often do not have separate CS/IT teachers, it is imperative to work with any teacher interested in doing this – whether they are a 2nd grade teacher or a high school English teacher.

This proposed CS4HS project will be completed in active partnership the State of Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska Career Education (NCE).  It also builds on UNK’s existing wealth of student support programs, current CSIT recruitment and retention programs, and current CSIT business and alumni relationships.

The initiatives in this CS4HS project will follow best practices, such as those developed by the Google Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) community, Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), code.org, and the National Center for Women in Technology applied toward specific needs in Greater Nebraska.

Google CS4HS Program

The UNK CS Principles on the Prairie program is a part of Google’s global effort to bring rigorous computer science professional development to CS teachers around the globe. 

  • CS4HS (cs4hs.com) is an annual funding program that improves the computer science (CS) educational ecosystem by providing funding for exemplary CS teacher professional development (PD) worldwide.

  • Impact metrics: Since its inception in 2009 nearly 400 CS4HS PD opportunities have brought the core principles of CS to over 20,000 teachers, impacting over 1 million students.

  • Where: In 2016, funding was provided in the US, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Sub-saharan Africa, Australia, New Zealand and China.