CodeVA has received a NSF DRK-12 Grant!
4 August, 2020
The National Science Foundation has awarded CodeVA a Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) program grant for CodeVA’s proposal, Reaching Across the Hallway: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching CS in Rural Schools. The four-year, $2.99 million project award, which includes TERC and the University of South Florida College of Education as partners, places a focus on using computer science and computational thinking to explore and contextualize history and civics lessons.
CodeVA, TERC, and the University of South Florida will work together to broaden participation among underrepresented student groups in computer science-related fields making computing relevant to minoritized students is essential to sparking interest. Under our Education Cummunity Manager, Bryan Wallace, this project will support a more inclusive understanding of history by allowing students to explore and bring to life key concepts using CS and computational tools.
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CodeVA receives NSF DRK-12 Grant
CodeVA will work with TERC and the University of South Florida College of Education to broaden rural middle school history students’ participation in meaningful and culturally relevant CS instruction.
Richmond, VA: The National Science Foundation has awarded CodeVA a Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) program grant for CodeVA’s proposal, Reaching Across the Hallway: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching CS in Rural Schools. The four-year, $2.99 million project award, which includes TERC and the University of South Florida College of Education as partners, places a focus on using computer science and computational thinking to explore and contextualize history and civics lessons.
The award, announced June 30, is particularly timely, given Virginia’s prominent role in the nation’s course, from founding to civil war to civil rights to the present Black Lives Matter-inspired national protests promoting social justice and change. This is CodeVA’s first federal grant award.
“Virginia is pleased that our K-12 computer science education initiative is an exemplar for other states as we progress toward the goal of making computer science literacy for all a reality,” Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni says , “Research is essential to this goal, and this particular project seeks to empower students to frame the study of history through a lens of computational practices.”
This discovery research grant focuses on integrating computer science (CS) in middle school history classes in collaboration with six rural school divisions in Virginia. The NSF’s DRK-12 program seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and CS (STEM+C) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of STEM and CS education innovations and approaches.
A central focus of the national push for computer science K-12 literacy is in broadening participation among underrepresented student groups in computer science-related fields and industries. And making computing relevant to minoritized students is essential to sparking interest, says Bryan Wallace, CodeVA’s education community manager and a principal investigator for the project: “This exciting project supports a more inclusive understanding of history by allowing students to explore and bring to life key concepts using CS and computational tools.”
The project will use culturally relevant curriculum and teaching practices in order to contextualize CS for rural school divisions while building a sustainable local infrastructure of CS trained teachers that serve large diverse communities across the state of Virginia. CodeVA’s established state-funded training programs have served approximately 3500 teachers since 2014, and focus heavily on building local school’s own capacity to provide basic training to the rest of their faculty, enabling them to meet the Virginia CS education mandate.
A key partner for CodeVA is Microsoft Corp., a longtime supporter and champion of increasing access to computer science education in underserved parts of the United States. Microsoft has supported CodeVA recently through the company’s TechSpark program, which works with local partners to advocate for digital skills and job creation, to ensure everyone – including those in southern Virginia – is able to benefit from a digital economy.
“Every student, no matter where they live, deserves the opportunity to learn digital skills,” says Kate Behncken, Vice President and Lead of Microsoft Philanthropies. “The NSF grant recognizes that expanding access to K-12 computer science education to all students—especially students in rural areas and those who are underserved—is essential to strengthening Virginia’s and the U.S. economy.”
The goals of this grant include:
- Broadening access to meaningful CS instruction for students in rural areas across Virginia.
- Using computational techniques such as modeling and simulation to allow students to explore historical events from multiple lenses.
- Providing innovative, replicable, and scalable training and resources on culturally relevant teaching techniques to support historical inquiry across rural divisions in Virginia.
About CodeVA: CodeVA is a non-profit that partners with schools, parents, and communities to bring equitable CS education to all of Virginia’s students based in Richmond, VA. Since 2014, CodeVA has provided no-cost professional development for Virginia teachers. CodeVA’s direct student programs serve students in the Richmond region and statewide, and its advocacy has helped define Virginia’s CS K-12 landscape. Learn more at codevirginia.org.
About TERC: TERC is a nonprofit made up of teams of math and science education and research experts dedicated to innovation and creative problem solving. At the frontier of theory and practice, TERC’s work encompasses research, content and curriculum development, technology innovation, professional development, and program evaluation. TERC has a passion for social justice and strives to create level playing fields for all learners, reaching more than three million students every year. To learn more, please visit www.terc.edu.
About University of South Florida College of Education: The University of South Florida College of Education is a community of faculty, students, and staff focused on transforming lives through the promotion of equity, social justice, and improved outcomes for students and communities, particularly those that have been underserved. With boundless energy and the collective power of our community, our research, degree programs, and local and global partnerships are focused on solving the most complex problems of a diverse society and on preparing practitioners to be agents of change. Learn more at https://www.usf.edu/education/