July 23, 2019
UNE recently hosted more than 30 high school and middle school teachers from Maine and Vermont for Computer Science Discoveries, a five-day workshop dedicated to helping teachers expand access to computer science in schools.
The workshop was organized by Educate Maine, the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, and Code.org, a national non-profit.
“By supporting this work, UNE is helping to ensure that young people in Northern New England are learning skills that are key to success,” said Holly Parker, M.Ed., assistant provost for Strategic Initiatives.
Educate Maine is a business-led, non-profit organization, aimed at advancing education policies and practices that prepare Maine students to be the next generation of productive, engaged citizens.
“We do education advocacy,” explained Katherine Johnston, project manager for Educate Maine. “Our whole mission is around college and career readiness. Ultimately our goal is to bring computer science education to middle and high schools statewide so that every single school has an offering, and it's available to every child.”
Computer science is something administrators at Gray-New Gloucester want to begin offering their students. Math teacher Christine Knudsen does not have a background in computer science, but after attending the workshop she feels ready to teach it to her students.
“Code.org curriculum allows teachers to step into the classroom and give students the opportunity to learn about computer science,” she commented. “Most schools are now providing computer devices to students, but we don't really give them much instruction on how to use it and how it really works. I feel like this is a class that really should be required.”
Educate Maine has been working with UNE’s Education Department to help prepare our new teachers to teach computer science across the curriculum from grades K-12.
“As a long-standing partner of Educate Maine, UNE is also a member of the CS4Maine Coalition, a group of organizations collaborating to ensure computer science is a subject area offered to all Maine K-12 students,” said Jason Judd, Ed.D., executive director of Educate Maine. “We greatly appreciate UNE's partnership in order to support Maine's teachers in this important content area.”
UNE provides funding for Educate Maine and sponsors its annual symposium. This is the second year UNE has donated classroom space for the workshop.
"We hope that the students who benefit from these teachers' passion and expertise will be inspired to study in programs like our Data Science program and become important members of a vibrant Maine workforce,” Parker stated.
Educate Maine also coordinates Focus Maine’s statewide internship program in which UNE students participate.