Pacelli Catholic Schools (PCS) will expand their computer science program to all students, kindergarten to 12th grade, in the 2016-2017 school year with an emphasis on teaching kids how to code.
“There is a clear need for schools to teach computer science, and, in particular, programming,” said PCS Director of Education Gregg Hansel. “Whatever field our students choose to go into, technology and computational skills will be the foundation of every industry. Our commitment to teaching computer science to our students will ensure our graduates that they can compete for jobs of the future.”
Last year, there were more than 600,000 high-paying tech jobs across the United States that were unfilled, according to the White House. Beyond that, the Bureau of Labor predicts that there will be over 1 million more jobs than computer science students by 2020. Building a foundation at an early age is vital to fulfilling the job needs of the future.
The new program will make Pacelli Catholic Schools a leader in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Pacelli Catholic Elementary students in grades K-5 will be introduced to computer science fundamentals involving programming, interactive robots, and unplugged activities.
Pacelli Catholic Middle School will be expanding on their existing 6th grade Computer Science First course by adding additional courses for grades 7 and 8. The middle school currently offers Design & Modeling and Automation & Robotics as well, part of the Project Lead the Way engineering program.
New options at Pacelli Catholic High School will be Introduction to Computer Science and AP Computer Science A (Java). The high school currently offers Computer Science Principles and various other specialized STEM courses in the areas of engineering and biomedical science. A senior capstone course in Computer Science is still in development, which will be aimed at giving students a real-world experience in a professional setting.
“In addition to the student coursework, we have formed partnerships with local businesses, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and Mid-State Technical College, to develop and support our Computer Science program,” said PCS Director of Technology Jeff Bushman. “It is an opportunity for our students to connect with industry leaders and higher education institutions, to help shape a path for their future.”
The computer science curriculum is supported by a 1:1 iPad initiative in grades 1 through 8 and a 1:1 Chromebook program for grades 9-12. High-tech computer labs and other classroom technology, such as interactive whiteboards and robots, will also be used in support of the program and have been funded through a grant from the Sentry Insurance Foundation.
Earlier this year, Jeff Bushman was featured as one of Skyward’s 2016 Leaders in Excellence for his leadership in advancing the technology curriculum. A short video, produced by Skyward, further highlighting PCS technology and computer science initiatives, can be found here.