University Collaborates with K-12 District on Digital Literacy

In a couple of weeks a Pennsylvania university will begin teaching STEM courses to students in grades 2 through 5 and 6 through 9. The CODE 4 STEM Academy is a summer-time program being run by the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown. Some of its lessons and activities have already been piloted in a fourth-grade classroom at the Greater Johnstown Elementary School.

The curriculum for each of the two programs covers 30 hours of learning tied to using computational thinking as an approach to problem-solving. The classes in the lower grades will run challenge-based activities involving LEGOs, coding and robotics, among other materials. Students in the upper grades will tackle projects and activities involving coding and engineering design skills, such as a robotics space challenge, video game development, the use of Raspberry Pi and storytelling with video and animation.

The program is being coordinated by Roxanne Jenner, director of Computational-Learning for Opportunities in a Digital Environment. CODE is a Pitt-Johnstown initiative intended to enhance the community's digital literacy for workforce competitiveness, beginning in K-12.

The ultimate vision, Jenner told a reporter, was to lift the community "in terms of jobs and opportunities and skill sets when it comes to computer science technology."

Now that some of the curriculum has been tested out, she noted, the next job would be to help the teachers learn how to integrate the STEM lessons into their classroom instruction.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.