Lawrence Technological University is launching a new program called CS+PA (Computer Science plus Physical Activities) that uses various exercise activities to illustrate and animate concepts in mathematics and computer science, while learning coding.
Future versions of the class will also use Zumba, yoga, martial arts training, and fitness boot camp-style activities.
The core part of the program is to teach students to animate photographs of themselves so that they can learn fundamental concepts of computer science. Currently Scratch, a free visual programming language developed by the MIT Media Lab, is being used.
The inaugural LTU CS+PA MathDance event was held Friday, Oct. 6 at LTU’s Marburger STEM Center. Some 18 seventh grade students from University Prep Science and Math Middle School in Detroit attended the hands-on workshop.
LTU mathematics and computer science professor C.J. Chung presented on the new initiative at the 2017 CSforAll Summit Oct. 16 and 17 at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
The CSforAll Summit is organized by the CSforALL Consortium (www.csforall.org), a collaborative community of more than 400 partner organizations, and the national hub for the Computer Science for All movement. The goal of the CSforALL Consortium is to provide inclusive, rigorous, and sustainable computer science education for every student in the United States, both inside and outside school.
Why is computer science needed for all? There are more than 500,000 high-paying tech jobs across the United States that are going unfilled today – and by next year, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields. But today, only 40 percent of K-12 schools offer a computer science course, and students in small and rural school districts are far less likely to have opportunities to learn computer science. Meaningful CS education for all students is critical to building a diverse workforce to compete in an innovation-based economy.
LTU’s CS+PA program gives a high priority to reach girls and minority students, who are underrepresented in computer science fields.
The second workshop for University Prep Science & Math Middle School in Detroit will be held on at LTU Friday, Oct. 28, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Chung said improved fitness is a side benefit of the CS+PA program.
LTU’s CS+PA MathDance program is supported by a grant LTU received earlier this year from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to create new ways to improve the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM fields, along with LTU’s Robofest robotics competition program. For more information, visit www.robofest.net/CSPA.