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CIS Uses Google Grant to Offer Free Workshop for Area Teachers

CIS Uses Google Grant to Offer Free Workshop for Area Teachers

Posted: June 19, 2017

According to a 2014 Gallup poll, nine out of 10 parents want their teens to study computer science in middle and high school, yet only one in four schools actually offer the subject.

Faculty within the Buffalo State Computer Information Systems (CIS) Department teamed up with search engine giant Google to reduce this disparity by offering a free hands-on workshop to local high school teachers.

From June 27–30, approximately 50 math, science, technology, and computer science teachers from schools throughout Erie, Niagara, and Chautauqua counties will attend the sixth annual Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) workshop in the Technology Building. In addition to the training, teachers will obtain a certificate for 25 hours of Continuing Teacher and Leader Education.

To make the workshop possible, CIS faculty members Sarbani Banerjee, Neal Mazur, and Ramona Santa Maria applied for a $35,000 Google grant. Since CS4HS began, Google has provided more than $100,000 in funding to CIS for the workshop and more than 130 teachers have participated.

The goal is to have more teachers introduce basic and advanced computer-science concepts into their classrooms. Also, the workshop organizers want more schools to add computer science courses to the curriculum and start computer clubs to whet student interest, said Mazur, associate professor and chair of CIS.

Over the four days, CIS faculty will provide an overview of computer programming and web design and offer problem-solving exercises to participants. They also will share new approaches to teaching two high school courses: Exploring Computer Science and Advance Placement (AP) Computer Science.

“Any teacher can participate. They just need to be passionate about computer science,” Banerjee said. “We have teachers coming from as far away as Jamestown, as well as plenty from Buffalo. We concentrated this year on connecting with more Buffalo teachers. As a result, many schools are participating for the first time, including City Honors, Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts, the International Preparatory School, Riverside Institute of Technology, South Park High School, and McKinley High School.”

Word of mouth has attracted more teachers each summer. Also, this past year, CIS faculty met with the director of math curriculum for Buffalo Public Schools and emphasized the importance of offering computer concepts in math and science classes, as well as giving students the choice of taking a computer science course to fulfill a math or science requirement.

In addition, Google recently recognized Buffalo State for having one of the leading CS4HS programs in the country. They invited Banerjee to serve as a Google ambassador and attend the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Leadership Summit, July 7–9, in Baltimore, Maryland.

“We are creating a pipeline of teachers through this workshop,” said Banerjee. “We know some teachers who attended in the past started computer clubs in their schools that has boosted student interest in the subject. And several local high schools are now offering the new AP computer science course. This is exciting because it means more students may pursue computer technology as a career.”

For more information about the workshop, visit the CS4HS website

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