Corner Canyon High is offering a new computer science class this fall co-taught by experts in the field.
As part of the Technology Education And Literacy in Schools program, Microsoft started and is funding these experts who share their real-job experience with Corner Canyon students as they teach them.
At the same time, Corner Canyon teacher Joel Smith is getting trained in the field so he can better prepare students in the years to come.
TEALS is a grassroots program that recruits, trains, mentors and places high-tech professionals from across the country who are passionate about computer science education into high school classes as volunteer teachers in a team-teaching model. TEALS eventually hands off the courses to the classroom teacher so the school will then be able to maintain and grow a sustainable computer science program on its own.
Corner Canyon is the second school in the state to offer this program, Principal Mary Bailey said.
“Corner Canyon was selected because most of our parents are professionals, and many are in the computer science industry,” she said.
The partnership began after Canyons School District Director of Career and Technical Education Janet Goble learned about the TEALS program in a technical education magazine.
“There’s a huge shortage of students entering the computer science field, so we’re trying to build a computer science pathway in our schools,” she said.
The program is a two-year commitment for industry professionals that allows Smith to be trained alongside the students. In addition, Smith is taking computer science classes to enhance the education that he brings to his students.
“Most of our students don’t have much background in computer science. So, two of the four professionals are team-teaching a project at a time,” he said. “After they work through one assignment, they trade with the other pair who teach another project. This is a great opportunity for our students to have hands-on experience to work on projects with professionals.”
About 60 sophomores, juniors and seniors filled two sections of the class this fall. Students are assigned a couple of projects to complete before creating their own personal projects at the end of the term. Many of the projects center around programming concepts such as creating characters who interact with each other, avoid obstacles and other similar video game interactions. They also learn how computers and computer programs work and how to make the program do what is wanted, Smith said.
“There are good skills for everyone to have — finding a program, diagnosing it and fixing it — and can apply to many fields. We need to know how to problem solve and fix problems to improve situations,” he said.
Goble said that the class will repeat in the spring, but the long range plans are to offer Advanced Placement computer programming. In the meantime, students may enroll in additional computer programming courses at Canyons Technical Center.