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CHallenging Algorithmics and Mathematics in Problem Solving for middle school students

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This project seeks to develop a collaborative model among middle schools, school district ad-ministration, and The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) to foster learning and interest in compu-ting and its related mathematics. The project will also play a vital role in the enrichment of middle school mathematics teachers, as well as in the training of graduate students to become effective educators. In the short term, our effort will further develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in middle-school students; in the long term, it will play a part in alleviating the shortage of skilled computing professionals in the United States.

National trends indicate a declining interest in computer science (CS). According to the Computing Research Association, the number of students choosing CS as a major is declining rapidly. They theorized that a major factor for this decline is the perceived fear of job losses due to off-shoring. On the other hand, the Department of Commerce's prediction is that in the next 10 years, after accounting for job losses due to off-shoring, the demand for CS-related degrees will signifi-cantly exceed the supply.

We believe another factor in this lack of interest is the way in which students are first exposed to computing, namely, learning a high-level language. This is discouraging to many students, because simple computer programming is often arduous, consisting of tracking errors, such as syntax errors, loop indices, etc. Exposure to high-level algorithms, which provide the intel-lectual reward of computer science, and exposure to the benefits they provide society (such as medical imaging), does not occur until students reach the university level. It is imperative that we provide learning opportunities to cultivate a keen interest for computing and information technology at an early age, which is the rationale for our focus on middle-school students.

Therefore, CHAMPS has two main objectives:

  • Develop an interest in computing and its applications in the minds of middle-school students, especially women and minority students, so that they will adopt computer science as their field of study when they attend college and later embark on a professional career.
  • Train GK-12 Fellows in the art of effective communication and teaching while being involved in state-of-the-art research so as to produce the computer science educators and researchers of tomorrow.

  • The Erik Jonsson School of
    Engineering and Computer Science



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