Missouri State received a $4 million grant — the largest collaborative grant in its history — to expand and improve computer science education programs in rural schools near Springfield.
The university was one of more than 1,000 applicants, but only 20 were selected by the U.S. Department of Education.
The five-year grant will begin with a 2021 Summer Launch for Teachers.
Initially, the university will partner with the following school districts: Ava, Bradleyville, Crane, Logan-Rogersville, Mansfield, Marshfield, Nixa, Osceola, Skyline, Springfield, Warsaw and West Plains. In Springfield, Delaware Elementary will be served.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, is chair of the appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies, which pushed for $65 million for science, technology, engineering and math or STEM programs with an emphasis on increasing access for rural schools.
“Computer science is increasingly becoming a foundational part of a student’s education. Unfortunately, too few students, especially in rural areas, have access to high-quality computer science education,” said Blunt, in a news release.
“This program will provide the tools, curriculum and technology to support 150 teachers and 13,500 students in rural areas. It will also build the evidence-base of what works to expand computer science education opportunities for rural students more broadly. This project will not only teach important STEM skills but inspire young minds.”
The university will help facilitate the CODERS Project to provide computer science in the rural schools.
As part of the grant, teachers and schools partnering with MSU will have access to high-quality curriculum that will support learning and provide technology not typically available. Also, a YouTube channel will be developed to develop teachers and engage students beyond the grant cycle.
“This grant will enable our faculty members to develop computer science expertise and resources with communities in southern Missouri that need them the most,” said MSU President Clif Smart, in a release. “We want to get young students excited about computer science through hands-on learning, so they can envision the possibilities of a STEM-related career.”
Some of the project’s features include:
- Professional development for rural area teachers in grades 3-8.
- Curriculum modules with interdisciplinary computer science, writing, physics and critical thinking.
- Computer science tools called CODERS kits, which include CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 starter kits, and Smart Video Robot Cars.