Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS) is developing an engineering design-based computer science curricula with Hofstra University, The International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA), computer science (CS) faculty from North Carolina State University and Boston College, and Henrico County Public Schools in Virginia by participating in the National Science Foundation funded Exploring Computation Integrated into Technology and Engineering (ExCITE) project.
The focus of this research practitioner partnership is the development of computer control and robotic activities (technology and engineering problem solving design challenges) in the Beauty and Joy of Computing (BJC) AP Computer Science Principles curriculum. This combination of the computer science/computational thinking knowledge and skills and the integration of the design-based real-world problem-solving challenges resonates well with female and male students from diverse backgrounds, including those from underserved and underrepresented populations who might not be interested in computer science, increasing the students’ opportunities for success. Its design-based teaching methodology is multifaceted, encourages generation of creative alternatives, and rejects one-size-fits-all approaches.
Through this partnership, CCPS was able to provide each ExCITE student with a Hummingbird microcontroller kit for use at home and school during the hybrid/virtual learning this past year. The students were able to stay actively engaged in learning through this hands-on problem-solving computer science curriculum.
Matt Davis, Computer Science teacher at South Carroll High School, is one of the five national curriculum developers and lead teachers for this project. Ted McNett, Assistant Supervisor of Career and Technical Education, is serving on the Project ExCITE Research Practitioner Partnership Management Team along with a representative from Henrico County Public Schools in Virginia, state education department supervisors in Maryland and Virginia, ITEEA, and Hofstra University.
In August of 2020, CCPS Computer Science teachers participated in the inaugural ExCITE summer professional development virtually to learn and perform the robotics activities. Through last year’s curriculum development in CCPS and Henrico County, as well as the second intensive week-long summer professional development, Project ExCITE is being offered in several other school districts in Maryland and Virginia in the coming school year. More information about the project can be viewed at: https://www.iteea.org/Activities/2142/excite.aspx.
Project ExCITE will be featured at the Texas Instruments STEM Exchange webinar on October 6, 2021.
Opportunities for CCPS students to further pursue computer science are available. Every CCPS high school offers a 3-credit computer science completer, and CISCO Cyber Security and Cyber Operations programs are offered at the Career and Technology Center.