Did you know? NSF programs for K-12 CS Education

It was my first CSTA conference(Omaha, NB: https://www.csteachers.org/page/2018conference) so all was new and exciting. I did peruse the exhibit hall when I first got there but didn’t spend much time. I went back the second day and wow! really glad I did. I spent a lot more time looking at each booth and talking with the people at places of interest. I learned A LOT!
While I don’t have the space to articulate everything I learned, I want to share one in particular that we might not think too seriously about.
The National Science Foundation booth was a natural for me to stop at – I was fortunate to have done 2 sabbaticals there during my career. It was great to visit with a former colleague and catch up on what’s new. I learned about 2 programs that I had not realized were applicable to the K-12 audience.

They are (quoting from the official NSF website):
STEM + Computing K-12 Education (STEM+C)
The STEM+C Program focuses on research and development of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to the integration of computing within STEM teaching and learning for preK-12 students in both formal and informal settings. The STEM+C program supports research on how students learn to think computationally to solve interdisciplinary problems in science and mathematics. The program supports research and development that builds on evidence-based teacher preparation or professional development activities that enable teachers to provide excellent instruction on the integration of computation and STEM disciplines.

Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST)
ITEST is a research and development program that supports projects to promote PreK-12 student interests and capacities to participate in the STEM and information and communications technology (ICT) workforce of the future.
The ITEST program supports research on the design, development, implementation, and selective spread of innovative strategies for engaging students in technology-rich experiences that: (1) increase student awareness of STEM occupations; (2) motivate students to pursue appropriate education pathways to STEM occupations; or (3) develop disciplinary-based knowledge and practices, or promote critical thinking, reasoning skills, or communication skills needed for entering STEM workforce sectors.
ITEST projects may adopt an interdisciplinary focus that includes multiple STEM disciplines, focus on a single discipline, or focus on one or more sub-disciplines. The ITEST program supports projects that provide evidence for factors, instructional designs, and practices in formal and informal learning environments that broaden participation of students from underrepresented groups in STEM fields and related education and workforce domains.
Why should we care about these programs? While you currently may not have time to write or participate in one of these projects, please to keep your eyes open for the projects that do get funded to see what interesting new ideas and activities are being developed. We’re part of an important emerging core area in K-12 education. These NSF-funded projects should give us much to think about. And you never know when you might be able to contribute.
Hurray for all of the things we can learn from the Exhibit Hall!!

Jane Prey
ACM Representative

Jane Prey, ACM Representative