White House Highlights PLTWs Computer Science Efforts
For Immediate Release
INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 8, 2014) – Today, to kick off Computer Science Education Week across the United States, President Barack Obama hosted an event at the White House where he encouraged students to learn computer science skills and highlighted the work of organizations – including Project Lead The Way – that are making a difference.
PLTW is developing a K-12 computer science pathway to give all students the opportunity to learn important computational thinking skills and pursue a career in computer science-related fields. In fall 2014, PLTW released its Computer Science and Software Engineering course for high school students – the first course in the PLTW Computer Science program. PLTW is currently piloting its Introduction to Computer Science course that can be used in middle school or high school, as well as modules for elementary school students. To round out options for students, PLTW will develop new high school courses focused on critical industry needs, like artificial intelligence, simulation and modeling, and cybersecurity.
“We see intense demand for a challenging, comprehensive K-12 pathway in computer science,” said Anne Jones, senior vice president and chief program officer at PLTW. “When we engage students at a young age with authentic, problem-based learning in computer science – and then continue that positive engagement in the classroom – we address problems of access and equity with a solution that really works.”
As part of its commitment to increase early access to computer science education, especially among underrepresented minority populations, PLTW is partnering with Verizon to give 12 underserved middle schools the tools and technology to help students learn computer science.
Verizon will supply PLTW with up to 35 Samsung Android tablets equipped with 4G LTE data plans per school, to be used by students participating in PLTW’s Introduction to Computer Science (ICS) course. This will create a 1:1 student-to-tablet ratio in the 12 participating schools’ ICS courses. Students in the ICS course will explore the power of computational thinking and the connection of digital literacy to their lives, and learn fundamental computer science concepts that apply to a range of disciplines, future studies, and careers.
In his remarks, President Obama noted that, by 2020, more than 50 percent of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) will be in computer science-related fields. If current trends continue, 1.4 million computer science-related jobs will be available over the next 10 years, but only 400,000 computer science graduates will be added with the skills to apply for those jobs. Further exacerbating the problem, a majority of K-12 schools do not offer any computer programming classes, and in 25 out of 50 states, computer science classes cannot count toward math and science high school graduation requirements.
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs. PLTW’s world-class, activity-, project-, and problem-based curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model, combined with an engaged network of educators and corporate partners, help students develop the skills needed to succeed in our global economy. More than 6,500 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are currently offering PLTW courses to their students. For more information, visit www.pltw.org.