Sparking STEM Enthusiasm
September 20, 2021
Through the New York State Department of Education Smart Start grant, more than 3,800 K-2 students in Freeport, Uniondale, and Westbury school districts on Long Island are on their way to mastering the New York State (NYS) Computer Science and Digital Fluency Standards. Educators gathered at NYIT de Seversky Mansion on August 26, where staff from New York Tech’s Technology-Based Learning Systems (TBLS) helped these districts begin training teachers to engage young learners in science and technology.
The five-year grant is designed to develop, implement, and share innovative programs that provide professional development and support to increase expertise in computer science, engineering, and educational technology among teachers in grades K-8. TBLS STEM Trainers Christopher Williams and Carol Weintraub led the districts in a day of professional development and will provide ongoing learning opportunities for educators in the three districts.
Forty educators spent the day learning about the benefits of computer science and digital fluency instruction for early childhood learners and how to overcome challenges to ensure their students are prepared for a digital world. The day’s itinerary included an introduction to the theory of computational thinking, how to overcome roadblocks, and how to implement these lessons in the classroom. Teachers also learned how to code using Sphero.edu and CodeSnaps to operate Spark+ robots.
Attendees left with a variety of instructional strategies and new skill sets, as well as materials and resources to immediately implement in their classrooms. “Now I feel more confident about what we are doing, and I can’t wait to learn more,” said one attendee. “This is great,” said another. “You took away both the fear of coding and using robots with the students.”
This article was contributed by Carol Weintraub.