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New Federal Law Means Computer Science Is Officially Part of STEM

“Computer Science” is now a federally recognized part of “STEM”

“Computer Science” is now a federally recognized part of “STEM” — which means we have more eligibility for federal grant programs.

Very short, simple law: STEM Education Act of 2015 Signed into law last Thursday.

Overview:  “New Federal Law Means Computer Science is Officially Part of STEM” article

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New Federal Law Means Computer Science Is Officially Part of STEM
The STEM Education Act of 2015 was signed into law today.

New Federal Law Means Computer Science Is Officially Part of STEM

By Jackie Zubrzycki on October 9, 2015 5:09 PM

The STEM Education Act of 2015, which expands the definition of STEM—an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—to include computer science programs, was signed into law yesterday.

The bill that became the STEM Education Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, and Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat from Connecticut, both members of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

The new law does not add funding, but it does expand the kinds of STEM programs that can be run and funded by federal government agencies to include computer science.

It also makes people who are pursuing a master’s degree and those with a background in computer science eligible for Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarships, which support science and math graduates and professionals who hope to teach.

The STEM Education Act of 2015 also instructs the National Science Foundation to continue to fund out-of-school and informal education programs in STEM subjects. That’s a boon for museums, nature centers, and other organizations that offer informal science programming.

As we’ve reported, something about the acronym STEM seems to invite additions: Advocates and educators have added everything from art to religion to reading to create STEAM and STREAM schools. But this addition has implications for which programs can be funded and who can apply for STEM programs WITHOUT adding a letter to the acronym. (I guess STECSM doesn’t have much of a ring to it.)

National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Award

Calling all hackers, coders, and technical high school women and educators!  Applications for the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing are now open to any U.S. high school woman with computing aspirations as well as high school educators.  Applicants must be a U.S. citizen enrolled in grades 9 through 12 for the 2015-16 academic year or educators at this level.  This multi-tiered competition honors young women who are active and interested in computing and technology, and those educators that encourage them to pursue their passions.

Apply on the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing website.

Below is a photo of the 2014-15 Idaho Affiliate winners and runners-up.

Image of the 2015-16 NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Idaho Affiliate Award Winners and Runners Up

2015-16 marks the 4th year of the Idaho Affiliate Award.  Over the last 3 years, this award has recognized 32 girls from high schools all over Idaho offering $106,000 in scholarships to study computer science at Boise State.  Award winners and runners included students from the following high schools:

  • Bishop Kelly
  • Carey High
  • Centennial High
  • COMPASS Public Charter
  • Idaho Virtual Academy
  • Kimberly High
  • Madison Senior High
  • Melba High
  • Meridian High
  • Meridian Technical Charter
  • Mountain Home High
  • Mountain View High
  • Nampa Senior High
  • Parma High
  • Rocky Mountain High
  • Sandpoint High
  • Timberline High
  • as well as a home school

How To guides for each step of the student applications can be found below.

See the Idaho NCWIT Aspirations in Computing website for more information or contact me with any questions.

Computer Science at West Ada

A Computer Science Magnet Program is currently being design and scheduled to be fully implemented over the next four school years. The first wave of classes are being offered at Meridian and Centennial High Schools. View more information about the West Ada CS Magnet Program.

Google CS Education Update

The Google CS education team have been doing a lot of work on the Exploring Computational Thinking website. With a focus on Computer Science Principles and the Seven Big Ideas, the site has recently added topics which includes:

  • 5 new videos demonstrating how Google uses computational thinking and the 7 Big Ideas from the CS Principles course
  • 130+ updated lesson plans, demonstrations, and programs aligned to international education standards

This is a great resource for educators and beyond to really start to explore how they might incorporate computational thinking into their classroom content and teaching practice. The videos specifically are intended for classroom use to help motivate, inspire, and broaden understanding of both computer science and computational thinking.

Karen Parker | Education Program Manager | | 650-253-4208

Business Community Pushes for Curriculum Changes

Idaho’s business community is instigating an effort to change curriculum in order to produce graduates with improved critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

It’s an industry-led effort to develop a more skilled work force.

This exert was taken from the Idaho Education News web site, view the full “Business Community Pushes for Curriculum Changes” article.

Stepped-up STEM

Backers of more math and science training are counting on a new state government office and an improved K-12 curriculum to help fill the pipeline for employers.

Graduates from Idaho universities are earning more degrees in science, technology, engineering and math than their predecessors, but not enough to meet demands of Idaho employers in a growing technological workplace.

Employers say the state and schools must do more, and in earlier grades, to fatten the pipeline of students choosing STEM careers. They are praising legislation passed this year creating a STEM Action Center in Gov. Butch Otter’s office to focus attention on the importance of more math and science education. They are working on legislation for 2016 that would make computer science a part of Idaho’s public school curriculum.

View the full “Stepped-up STEM” article.

College Board Endorses 5 CSP Programs

The College Board plans to endorse 5 programs designed and piloted with NSF support; teachers will be able to utilize programs such as these to implement the new AP Computer Science Principles course: view more information on the College Board website.

Washington State Computer Science Education Legislation

Here is a link to Washington State plans for Computer Science Education.

CS Partnership:, ITC, IDLA and IDoCode

Partnerships are crucial to the success of the Boise State University IDoCode grant objective to promote and advance Computer Science in Idaho.  As part of our effort, the Boise State University Computer Science department in partnership with the Idaho Technology Council (ITC), the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA), the National Science Foundation and to bring nationally recognized Computer Science Curriculum to Idaho High Schools.

View the partnerships.

Google Grants Help Boost Computer Science Education

Boise State is teaming up with Internet megastar Google to attract and retain students interested in computer science. While the field is one of the fastest growing on campuses across the country, retention has not kept pace with enrollment.

Faculty in Boise State’s Department of Computer Science have been awarded two grants toward this goal. Jim Conrad received a $5,000 Google Computer Science Engagement award, while Amit Jain will collaborate with Alark Joshi, Marissa Schmidt and department chair Tim Andersen on a $24,000 Google Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) award.

See all the Google grant current programs.

View the full “Google Grants Help Boost Computer Science Education” article.