The Ignite project aims to prepare beginning educators with the fundamentals of computer science | Sponsor: Cain Center

In the United States, careers related to computer science have seen exponential growth as a field. Companies in dozens of sectors are hiring people with computer science skills for lucrative, growth-potential jobs that have the potential to become lifelong careers.

Louisiana students are often underprepared for these careers, said Summer Dunn, director of the Metropolitan Area STEM Network Center and associate director of the Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy.

“A lot of positions in our state are left open because companies can’t find people to fill them who have the right education,” Dan said. “They’re looking for people with skills in STEM fields like computer science and engineering, but who also have soft skills like knowing how to collaborate and work with others. All these skills are so important in today’s workplace.’

The Metropolitan STEM Network Center is working to change that, with the belief that improved computer science education in Louisiana begins with providing the state’s teachers with the appropriate training so they can impart valuable knowledge to their own students as well as colleagues you are teachers.

Project Ignite is a free, 40-hour, stipend-provided workshop that will focus on computer science fundamentals for Louisiana public K-5 and public charter teachers. The program begins in December with training for Ignite ambassadors. This part of the Ignite project will allow teachers selected from their district or school to attend multiple sessions. Training sessions provide teachers with the essential skills they need to incorporate computer science-based projects and classroom activities that enrich and support student learning. Sessions include topics such as CS basics, Scratch, Micro:bits, Finch robots, machine learning and cyber security.

Using a “train the trainer” approach, teachers who successfully complete the 40-hour workshop as Ignite Ambassadors will share their knowledge with other educators in their school or district. Ambassadors will receive stipends of at least $1,200 to $1,500 after successfully completing the training workshop.

“Our idea is to expose teachers to STEM education, especially in CS, and develop their understanding of what’s possible, then bring that new knowledge back into their classrooms and schools,” Dan said. “We will also provide them with materials and resources that they can use in the classroom with their students.”










The Ignite Ambassador workshops run from December 2023 to March 0, 2024 and include a combination of virtual, in-person and self-paced learning components. In early March, the teacher component of the program will begin for educators who provide direct classroom instruction to K-5 students. These teachers will be trained by an Ignite Ambassador and earn $350 upon completion of the workshop.

Dunn said Ignite is the state’s first major effort at the elementary school level to provide teachers with significant computer science training and resources.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring computer science to these levels,” said Caleb Gardner, project coordinator for The Ignite Project. “Even though they’re young, giving a child an idea of ​​what they do and don’t like is helpful. It is important that they have this exposure early on and can begin to identify their own interests and strengths.

Dan said she and other educators who incorporate hands-on, project-based learning have seen students respond with high levels of engagement and excitement in their computer science and STEM assignments.

“I think kids often find that it makes learning fun and exciting when they’re doing things together instead of just filling out a worksheet,” she said. “It matters when kids do things they enjoy in the classroom.”

Project Ignite seeks a diverse pool of teachers from different geographic areas in an effort to better ensure that students in urban, suburban, and rural communities have equal STEM-related educational opportunities. Education leaders are also exploring ways to ensure students are learning the same STEM skills at the same levels across the state.

For more information about The Ignite Project or to register, visit https://capitalareastem.org/.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *