A state grant and matching money worth $68,000 will go toward advancing computer science education in Mid-Columbia schools.
Educational Service District 123, based in Pasco, was one of 10 organizations recently awarded $2 million in grants that are accompanied by an equal amount of matching dollars from private organizations and donors.
A partnership between the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and nonprofit Washington STEM made the grants possible. In the Mid-Columbia, it will pay for a continued effort to connect middle school students with computer science by training teachers in ways to bring it into their classrooms.
“The idea is to embed computer science into an already taught course,” said Georgia Boatman, regional science coordinator for ESD 123.
Computer science is part of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education. State education officials and industry leaders have advocated for more science and technology in schools for years, citing the growing demand for technically trained workers and a growing shortage of applicants with those skills.
“Exposure to computer science leads students to great career possibilities, yet so many students, including students of color, students from rural areas and girls, do not have opportunities to learn about computer science,” said Andy Shouse, Washington STEM’s chief program officer.
In the Mid-Columbia, all three Tri-City school districts and a few others teamed with ESD 123. Battelle and national computer coding organization Code.org also contributed resources.
Boatman said the grant will allow the ESD to continue an effort it began with the help of a similar grant it received last winter.
It will pay for training for up to 50 middle school teachers in the region who teach algebra and science on ways to incorporate computer science into their lesson plans.
“I think it’s been important to leverage these partnerships,” Boatman said.