Rowan profs instructing teachers how to program robots, incorporate them in middle school classes and clubs

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Dr. Jennifer Kay in the Computer Science Department at Rowan University, funded by a $15,000 grant from Google, will teach 20 primarily middle school teachers (from Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cape May, Middlesex, Ocean and New Castle {DE} counties) how to program robots on Tuesday, June 28 through Thursday, June 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 212 of Robinson Hall on the Glassboro campus.

Dr. Jennifer Kay in the Computer Science Department at Rowan University, funded by a $15,000 grant from Google, will teach 20 primarily middle school teachers (from Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cape May, Middlesex, Ocean and New Castle {DE} counties) how to program robots on Tuesday, June 28 through Thursday, June 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 212 of Robinson Hall on the Glassboro campus.

Kay will work with middle schools classroom, math and technology teachers on programming LEGO robots. Additional faculty from the Computer Science Department and College of Education will give presentations on other ways to get middle school students interested in computer science and robotics. The goal of the workshop is to facilitate the skills teachers need to excite their students about computer science and technology, areas in which the United States often lags behind other developed countries. Participants will be able to keep their robots as well as support materials.

The Google grant is part of the firm’s "Computer Science for High School" (CS4HS) offering (now extended to middle schools).

According to Google’s website, the goals of CS4HS include promoting computer science and computational thinking in high school and middle school courses. Universities use the Google grants to develop two- to three- day workshops for local teachers that incorporate informational talks by industry leaders and discussions on new and emerging computer science curricula.
 
Kay noted that her goal is to increase the number of middle school students who learn to program effectively. The Rowan workshop will focus on problem solving skills, programming skills and other background knowledge the teachers need to successfully teach these concepts in the classroom as well as run after-school robotics clubs that are based on the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) technology challenges  (http://usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/fll/). Kay noted that of the three key tasks involved in FLL competitions (research, LEGO design and programming), teachers are least prepared to handle the programming component. She hopes to help them develop the skills to start FLL clubs at their schools.

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