Twelve schools are leading the way for computer science instruction in Iowa as part of the Computer Science is Elementary project. Nearly 100 educators and administrators from these schools gathered at the FFA Enrichment Center located on the Des Moines Area Community College campus in Ankeny for the Computer Science is Elementary Institute. At the institute, they gained ideas, insights and coaching and left inspired and motivated to take the next steps in planning and implementing computer science across the curriculum in their schools.

The institute featured a wide array of engaging and informative speakers, including:
  • STEM Council Executive Director Jeff Weld who welcomed attendees and spoke about the imperative for computer science education for today’s students. 
  • Collins Aerospace Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility Adriana Johnson who echoed the importance of the future workforce being trained in computer science from an employer perspective. Collins Aerospace is one of the lead sponsors of the Computer Science is Elementary project.
  • A large portion of the day was led by educator and best-selling author of Code Breaker and Block Breaker Brian Aspinall who shared valuable insight and enthusiasm on computer science instruction. He provided hands-on demonstrations of programs and materials for potential use in the classroom. 
  • Hamburg Community School District Fifth Grade Teacher Lindsey Fann who shared information about Computer Science Foundations.
  • Johnston Community School District Instructional Technology Coordinator Ann Wiley and University of Northern Iowa Director of Computer Science Education and Associate Professor Ben Schafer who spoke about Iowa’s computer science standards.
  • Governor Kim Reynolds who attended the institute to share her support and excitement for the implementation of computer science in Iowa schools.
  • Loess Hills Computer Programming Elementary School Principal John Beeck who spoke about their experience with weaving computer programming throughout curriculum in an imaginative and enjoyable way.
  • A panel of representatives from various Iowa schools who showcased efforts to integrate computer science into classrooms in innovative ways.

The institute allowed educators and administrators to network, ask questions, share ideas and challenges and to collaborate as a planning team for each of their schools.

Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise closed the day with a motivational message prompting action and next steps towards reaching their goals.

The Computer Science is Elementary project is a joint effort of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and the Iowa Department of Education and is made possible by the generous support of private-sector partners and the Iowa Legislature. For more information about the Computer Science is Elementary project, visit  www.IowaSTEM.gov/CSElementary