Grant to Fund Computer Science Education, Research in Rural Schools

October 18, 2017

Emporia State’s focus on high-impact learning for students now extends to rural Kansas middle schools, thanks to a nearly half-million-dollar grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project, a joint effort between ESU and Flint Hills Technical College, involves creating curriculum and affordable equipment kits that classroom teachers can use to model a variety of practical agricultural tasks. National Science Foundation funded the three-year project with $454,356.

“The goal is to get eighth and ninth grade students in rural areas across the country excited about the powerful possibilities computer coding can add in the agricultural field.” said Joseph Kern, Olpe High School STEM teacher and former ESU instructional designer.

Numerous efforts to increase interest in computer science fields involve adding computing projects to science and math curriculum. In contrast, this project adds computing to non-computer science careers and technical courses, specifically agriculture science or agriculture mechanics classes.

Dave Budke and Chris Wilson, FHTC industrial engineering instructors, will develop the kits and the design challenges. The kits will be produced by DEPCO or Dependable Education Products Company of Pittsburg, which develops and markets curriculum in science, business, marketing, IT, careers and technology, family and consumer sciences, industrial automation and pre-engineering.

An ESU team of Kern, Dusti Howell, interim chair of Instructional Design and Technology; and Matt Seimears, chair of Elementary Education, Early Childhood and Special Education; will develop the curriculum and train classroom teachers through online and face-to-face workshops.

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