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IBM and the Computer Science Teachers Association Help High School Students Boost Computer Science Skills

Early Education in Open Computing Skills Leads to Broader Career Choices

ARMONK, NY & NEW YORK, NY - 13 Apr 2006: IBM and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) today announced that they will collaborate to accelerate computer science and technology skills among high school students. This marks the first time that CSTA has partnered with an IT vendor to co-develop customized courseware for secondary school audiences.

IBM and CSTA will provide more than 36,000 teachers with free access to computer science resources in an effort to improve teachers' expertise and help students acquire necessary skills for jobs in the 21st century. The new resources are being introduced based on a pilot program involving a half of a dozen high schools nationwide. With just a few clicks, teachers can access a series of lesson plans, guidebooks and topic overviews to incorporate concepts of computer programming and Web design into everyday math and science classes.

Although computer science is an established discipline at the collegiate and post-graduate levels, its integration into the K-12 curriculum has not kept pace in the United States. For example, according to the Department of Education, 82 percent of United States high school seniors are below proficient levels in science. Ensuring that there are skilled individuals prepared for jobs in the IT industry has become a major issue worldwide, but even more acutely in the U.S.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs requiring science, engineering and technical training will increase 51 percent through 2008. This increase could lead to 6 million job openings for scientists, engineers, and technicians. To take advantage of this growing opportunity, it is critical that students start building computer science skills at an early age, particularly before they reach college.

Shane Torbert, a teacher at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, participated in the six-week pilot program. "The structure of the lessons encouraged students to think through the design of a computer program, from problem statement to solution," said Torbert. "I have found the design process generally hard to teach, and these lessons helped significantly ease my instruction."

The mission of the Computer Science Teachers Association is to bring greater exposure to the study of computer science in the K-12 sector. "It was a logical choice to collaborate with IBM to drive innovation around computer science in the classroom," said Chris Stephenson, executive director of CSTA. "As a pioneer of the computer science industry, IBM has a deep knowledge and expertise in this field. Working together, we can actively deliver high quality, accessible tools for teachers to draw more students in this exciting field."

"This work is critical to helping fill the pipeline with engineers, computer scientists and other professionals who will lead in the Innovation Economy," said Buell Duncan, general manager, IBM Developer Relations and the IBM Academic Initiative. "Our collaboration with CSTA is enabling us to identify and influence promising talent at a formative age."

New Computer Science Tools for the Classroom

The new IBM/CSTA learning materials are designed specifically for high school classroom use. These tools help teachers introduce basic programming and Web design principles into every day computer science, math and science classes. Teachers can use the pre-packaged lesson plans to break down the complexity in teaching computer science. The resources align to the curriculum standards contained in the "ACM Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science." The Association for Computing Machinery launched CSTA to ensure that teachers have the tools they need to get students interested in computer science careers.

One additional resource being provided through this partnership is a professional development module that can be used by teachers to improve their own teaching strategies. Using the techniques outlined in this module, teachers can lead a series of group exercises that teach students how to collaborate with each other and solve complex problems. These advanced skills are becoming relevant to Information Technology field and every workplace, as tough business issues are increasingly being resolved by groups of people in collaborative working environments.

The new resources will be supported by the IBM Academic Initiative program, which offers faculty and students at universities a wide range of technology education benefits to encourage the use of open standards technologies.

Currently, more than 1,900 institutions, 11,000 faculty members and 450,000 students are taking advantage of the training programs offered through the IBM Academic Initiative, a partnership program designed to educate millions of students for a more competitive IT workforce. Building on this success, for the first time, IBM will extend its expertise into high schools.

The new resources also can be downloaded directly from the CSTA webpage: www.csta.acm.org.
Details of the courseware include:

Object-Oriented Design Using Pong:
-Students will design and implement the classic video game Pong using Java programming concepts. Teachers can use interactive group exercises to educate students about the core principles of object-oriented programming.

Web Page Design and Development:
-Teaches students about basic Web site design techniques such as how to select a Web site project, identify the target population for a Web site and use storyboarding as tool for building Web sites. Includes a comprehensive set of lesson plans and handouts.

Project-Based Learning Module
-Provides teachers with an overview of project-based learning and is intended for use as a professional development resource. It includes PowerPoint presentations, sample worksheets and templates, and links to additional readings.

The resources were developed by IBM education consultants, working with high school computer science teachers, university professors, and CSTA. "IBM has a strong history working with schools and teachers to help improve education around the world," said Robin Willner, vice president for IBM Global Community Initiatives. "The computer science curriculum is a great example of collaboration to provide resources for teachers to help students succeed in the Innovation Economy."

IBM's primary social commitment is education; in addition to programs focused on school reform, IBM has a number of programs designed to cultivate interest and raise achievement in math, science and engineering among K-12 students, girls and minorities through innovative programs like EX.I.T.E., MentorPlace and eWeek (Engineering Week) activities.

Contact(s) information

Pasha Ray
IBM Media Relations
(646) 598-3652
bipasha@us.ibm.com

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