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May 6: Carnegie Mellon Offers Free Summer Workshops On Using Computers in High School Science, Math Classes


Byron Spice                          

Carnegie Mellon Offers Free Summer Workshops
On Using Computers in High School Science, Math Classes

PITTSBURGH—High school teachers who want to tap the power of computing to help them teach students about science, mathematics and technology can gain valuable insights and materials during three four-day workshops offered for the first time this summer by Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science.

With support from the National Science Foundation, the new program called ACTIVATE (Advancing Computing and Technology Interest and innoVAtion through Teacher Education) will offer the workshops to high school teachers in the Northern Appalachian region. The workshops are free of charge, with lodging, meals, travel and parking provided as well.

"This isn't necessarily about only teaching students how to program computers; it's about getting students to think computationally, so that they can better use computers to understand their world," said Thomas Cortina, assistant teaching professor of computer science and ACTIVATE director. "Computer science now is a driving force in every scientific and engineering discipline and an integral part of business today. Computational principles should be part of every student's education, and these workshops will help teachers in our own region learn how to incorporate these important ideas into their own classes."

The first workshop, July 6-9, will explore the use of Alice, a 3D animation environment devised by the late Randy Pausch, professor of computer science and acclaimed best-selling author of "The Last Lecture." The Alice software enables even novices to create computer animations, and Carnegie Mellon makes it available as a free download.

The second workshop, July 10-13, explores the concept of computational thinking, and includes a number of hands-on activities that teachers can duplicate in their classrooms to illustrate computational principles without writing complex computer programs.

The third workshop, July 14-17, will prepare participants to teach some introductory elements of Java programming, including examples suitable for math and science courses.

The workshops are available to any high school science, technology, engineering or math teacher in Pittsburgh or the surrounding Appalachian region of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and western Maryland. Stipends are available for teachers that participate, and teachers can earn professional development credit, including Act 48 credit for Pennsylvania teachers. For more information or to apply, visit the ACTIVATE Web site at