The U.S. Department of Education awarded a $4 million grant to Missouri State University to expand and improve computer science education programs in rural area schools.
The funding comes from the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program. Missouri State received one of 20 awards from over 1,000 applicants. This is the largest collaborative grant the university has received.
“Computer science is increasingly becoming a foundational part of a student’s education. Unfortunately, too few students, especially in rural areas, have access to high-quality computer science education,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), chair of the appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS).
“This program will provide the tools, curriculum and technology to support 150 teachers and 13,500 students in rural areas. It will also build the evidence-base of what works to expand computer science education opportunities for rural students more broadly. This project will not only teach important STEM skills but inspire young minds.”
As chair of the Labor/HHS appropriations subcommittee, Blunt led the effort to include $65 million for STEM education, with a specific priority for computer science education and programs operating in rural areas, within the EIR program, in the committee’s FY2020 bill.
About the CODERS Project
The CODERS Project provides computer science opportunities, development and education in rural schools. The five-year grant will begin with a 2021 Summer Launch for Teachers. Initial partner schools are Ava, Bradleyville, Crane, Logan-Rogersville, Mansfield, Marshfield, Nixa, Osceola, Skyline, Springfield/Delaware, Warsaw and West Plains.
Access to a high-quality curriculum will support learning, provide technology not typically available, and develop a YouTube channel to promote teacher development and student engagement beyond the grant.
“This grant will enable our faculty members to develop computer science expertise and resources with communities in southern Missouri that need them the most,” said Missouri State President Clif Smart. “We want to get young students excited about computer science through hands-on learning, so they can envision the possibilities of a STEM-related career.”
Some of the project’s features include:
- Professional development for rural area teachers in grades 3-8.
- Curriculum modules with interdisciplinary computer science, writing, physics and critical thinking.
- Computer science tools called CODERS kits, which include CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 starter kits, and Smart Video Robot Cars.