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Jen Rosato and Chery Takkunen

Jen Rosato and Chery Takkunen

St. Scholastica faculty members are helping to bridge a growing gap in computer science education in America.

For the fourth year in a row this past summer, St. Scholastica was awarded a grant through Google's Computer Science for High Schools (CS4HS) initiative.

The highly competitive grant is being implemented at just five brick-and-mortar locations and eight online programs in the United States. This year St. Scholastica used the funds to show educators how to teach computer science principles through mobile app development.

Jennifer Rosato, assistant professor of Computer Information Systems, and Chery Takkunen, associate professor and chair of Graduate Education Programs for the School of Education, developed the CS4HS program at St. Scholastica.

Takkunen said the initiative helps address a pressing need in American education.

"What our country needs to do to stay competitive," she said, "is get kids interested in computer science so that they go into tech careers. The U.S. Department of Labor shows that over the next 20 years we're going to have a shortage of people pursuing computer science."

This year's course provided educators with training on how to teach a newly created Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles class.

"It goes back to what's engaging for kids," Rosato said. "When kids get the opportunity to build knowledge for themselves - to create things that they are thinking about and have relevance and meaning for them - they learn more."

The goal, she said, is to give teachers the foundation they need to go back to their schools and start AP computer science programs as soon as possible.