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.