HOLYOKE, MA — This fall, a dozen area high schools will take a new approach to computer classes — sometimes by ditching the computer.
While much of the Exploring Computer Science program does in fact feature computer work, the yearlong curriculum encourages hands-on learning and problem solving through journal writing, group brainstorming and the use of toys to illustrate concepts.
During a weeklong workshop earlier this month at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke, 15 teachers took their first steps in spreading a new wave of computer science education to local students. The workshop is a national initiative that takes a three-pronged approach to teaching: equity, inquiry and computer science concepts.
The Holyoke workshop was part of a statewide program organized by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Massachusetts Exploring Computer Science Partnership. It was funded by a $40,000 National Science Foundation grant.
The dozen western Massachusetts and Worcester County schools that will offer the curriculum this fall join a handful of schools around the state that began offering it two years ago. The high schools that will begin offering the program are Easthampton, Gateway Regional, Granby, Ware, Greenfield, Holyoke, Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, Wilbraham and Monson Academy, Lenox, Chicopee Comprehensive and Murdock in Winchendon.