Boise gets a piece of the Pi

Computers have come a long way since their inception. They are constantly changing and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest developments. Can you imagine working on a computer back when they were first built? Think of their size, speed and their ability. Think of the innovations in computer technology from the beginning, even in the last 10 or even 5 years. Computers have gotten smaller and more efficient. We have laptops, tablets, cell phones and cool innovated things like Raspberry Pis. Raspberry Pis? Nope, not a food blog and this definitely isn’t something you eat. According to Raspberry Pi’s website, a Raspberry Pi is a debit card sized computer that plugs right into a computer monitor or TV. It is a really low cost way that enables people of all ages to explore computing! It also allows people to learn how to program in languages like Python and Scratch. It’s a mini computer! How cool is that?

We at the Idaho STEM Action Center are super excited about it too! In fact, we are so excited that we partnered with Picademy, Raspberry Pi’s Foundation, to bring one of four national trainings to Idaho. That’s one of four national trainings, right here in the Gem State. What an incredible opportunity for Idaho!

Idaho’s Picademy professional development sessions will convene August 7-8 and 10-11, the two-day trainings will be held at Jack’s Urban Meeting Place (JUMP, 1000 W Myrtle St, 83702) in Boise.

Each of the two training sessions has 40 educators (formal, librarians, after school educational programs, etc.) each. Picademy had total control of who was selected but 36 educators from Idaho were accepted into the 80 available slots, go Idaho (remember, it’s national)!

The Idaho STEM Action Center is happy to provide selected Idaho educators with travel funds to attend the Boise trainings. Educators that complete the training will be an official Raspberry Pi Certified educator, receive a swag bag full of goodies, and have access to a network of other certified teachers across the world, while building their skills and knowledge of creative computing and much more. To find out more information about Raspberry Pi, click here. To find out more about the Idaho STEM Action Center, click here.

Legislators Pass Computer Science Standards

We have exciting news for Idaho’s Computer Science community! Idaho legislators unanimously passed Idaho Content Standards in Computer Science (IDAPA 08.02.03.1601) during the 2017 session. The development committee for the Idaho Computer Science Standards was comprised of State Department of Education staff, Career-Technical-Education staff, STEM AC staff, K-12 educators and administrators, higher education, and industry experts invested in creating guidelines and a roadmap for K-12 CS education offerings and ensuring a common tool that could be used across the state.

COMPUTER SCIENCE PAGE

Computer Science is a rapidly growing field and according to the Idaho Department of Labor, Idaho has 1,300 unfilled computer science-related job openings. Therefore, the intent of the CS standards is to help clarify student learning outcomes and to provide guidance to districts and educators that choose to implement CS for their students.

The STEM Action Center recognizes that CS might be unfamiliar for some educators, so we have teamed up with several organizations to provide high-quality statewide CS professional development workshops. K-12 educators are encouraged to apply for a variety of opportunities that will teach innovative ways to incorporate CS into classroom instruction and provide the ongoing support they need to be successful.

Here are a few grants currently open that are aligned with the new Idaho CS Standards:

  • C-STEM Center Professional Development
  • Code.org’s Professional Learning Program
  • University of Idaho’s Dual Credit Training
  • Picademy USA PD Training
  • iSTEM Summer Institute

K-12 educator interested in getting ready to implement the recently adopted Idaho Computer Science Standards check out CS-specific professional development opportunities at https://stem.idaho.gov/grants

The role of out-of-school time in preparing a STEM Ready America

21st century skills like critical thinking and perseverance are in high demand in today’s workforce—but industry leaders report a significant gap between the skills they need and the skills workers have. New findings from the Afterschool & STEM System Building Evaluation 2016, previewed March 1st at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., demonstrate that afterschool programs play a vital role in closing the gap by helping students develop the skills to succeed in school, work, and life.

Supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and STEM Next, the study surfaced several key findings that illustrate the potential for afterschool to prepare students for future success:

  • 72 percent of students reported an increase in their perseverance and critical thinking skills
  • 73 percent reported an increase in their personal belief that they can succeed at science
  • 78 percent reported a positive change in their interest in science
  • 80 percent reported a positive gain in their science career knowledge
  • Check out findings from the study in the new “STEM Ready America” compendium, alongside articles from 40 experts and thought leaders in the out-of-school time and STEM learning spaces—and stay tuned for the release of the full study later this month.

    Creative Young Inventors Are Exceptional Summer Interns

    Imagine hiring a summer intern with creative problem solving skills who can communicate effectively and is an independent, self-motivated worker!  The Invent Idaho High School State Finals Grand Champion inventor may be the very intern you are seeking for your business or industry.

    The team at Invent Idaho, the Northwest’s premier student invention competition, has a win-win proposal for companies in Idaho: As part of the student’s award package for earning the title “Invent Idaho Grand Champion High School Inventor”, one high school student will receive an invitation to interview with your company for a possible summer internship.  Please note that this does not in any way obligate you to hire a student who does not meet your requirements. The young inventor would have to earn that position themselves through the interview process. It does, however, provide the student with a guaranteed interview.

    This opportunity is a win-win situation because your company will receive the benefits of a high school intern with a proven track record of hard work, creativity, and real world problem solving skills, and a summer internship looks great on a resume and college application for that student.

    If you are interested in becoming the first company in Idaho to support our home-grown creative youth by providing an interview for the Invent Idaho Grand Champion, please contact Beth Brubaker, Invent Idaho State Coordinator, at bethbr@inventidaho.com.

    FabSLAM 2016 — Awe Inspiring Results

    Idaho FabSLAM 2016 was a huge success! Over 75 students (grades 5-8) and 26 mentors from around the state converged on the Discovery Center of Idaho for the inaugural 3D Design and Fabrication Showcase event held May 14th. The FabSLAM Showcase was the culmination of a project that began in March when the STEM Action Center and the Digital Harbor Foundation trained 20 teachers from 15 schools throughout the state as coaches and equipped them with 3D printers. For this year’s theme, each team identified an issue in their community that could be addressed using 3D printing and digital fabrication and then developed and documented a product to help resolve it. At the FabSLAM Showcase, the teams presented their solutions to a panel of five judges and a public audience for review and feedback.The winning teams received over $1,250 in cash prizes to help continue funding STEM learning in their schools.

    And now for the winning teams! Drum Roll Please!...

    Students from around Idaho participate in the 2016 FabSLAM Idaho Showcase at the Discovery Center of Idaho in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, May 14, 2016. The FabSLAM Showcase was the conclusion of a 3D printing design and fabrication competition featuring teams from schools around Idaho conducted by the Idaho STEM Action Center.

    From Nampa, Lone Star Middle School’s G T.E.A.M. took first place with its Homeless Emergency Life Pack, or HELP. The wheeled suitcase can be turned into a one-person shelter. The team also earned the Students’ Choice Award based on votes from their peers. You can view the team website and learn all about the project.  In second was the ElemEngineers from Boise’s Hawthorne Elementary School — the only elementary school participating in FabSLAM Idaho this year. The team created a trap that hangs on fruit trees to lure and kill fruit flies that destroy soft-skinned fruit crops. Check out this team's design cycle at their website.  Coder Bunnies, the third-place team from Kuna Middle School, created a filtration system to remove trash and sediment from canal water before it’s used for irrigation. Read about the process this team used to create a viable filter here.

    Other participating schools included Emmett Middle School in Emmett, Jefferson Middle School in Caldwell, Jerome Middle School in Jerome, Kimberly Middle School in Kimberly, Lakeside Junior/Senior High School in Plummer, Marsing Middle School in Marsing, Middleton Middle School in Middleton, Vera C. O’Leary Middle School in Twin Falls, Vision Charter School in Caldwell, West Middle School in Nampa, and Vallivue Middle School in Caldwell.