PHOENIX — SciTech Institute, an organization working to enhance and promote the value and importance of STEM education, announced this month that it has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for nearly $300,000 to support computer science in rural and tribal Arizona.

The project, Arizona Hubs Advancing Computer Science (AZHACS), will develop collaborations in rural regions to assist educators and community members in the integration of computer science and computational thinking for K-8 education. This initial phase of the project will run through June 2022.

“The National Science Foundation is a vital agency dedicated to promoting the progress of science, and we are grateful for this generous grant,” said Dr. Jeremy Babendure, executive director, SciTech Institute. “It’s critically important to assess the current state of computer science education and professional development in Arizona’s rural schools serving underserved and underrepresented youth. We need to identify gaps and address issues with critical solutions.”

SciTech Institute will establish AZHACS, a network of partnerships that includes the SciTech Institute, Arizona Practitioner-Researcher Educational Partnership (AzPREP) Office in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, Arizona Science Center, Arizona Department of Education and BootUp Professional Development (BootUp PD). The Hub will also facilitate regional research and practitioner partnerships.

AZHACS will bring together K-8 educators, school administrators, students, parents, and community members to focus on three key roles envisioned to strengthen the role of computer science and its relevance in rural and tribal schools:

• Create a network of partnerships across the state

• Conduct conversations with multiple stakeholders to identify needs and assets

• Build local capacity with an array of funding opportunities, including grant writing

Through partnerships with educational researchers at the three state universities, the regional teams will build tools towards deeply understanding the needs and assets in their schools to embrace computer science as a powerful means for student success.

“By establishing a network of partnerships, we are creating a model for transformational change,” said Dr. Alexander Kurz, associate professor at ASU and director of the Arizona Practitioner-Researcher Educational Partnership. “Strong, integrated communities dedicated to high-quality STEM programs will help rural and tribal K-8 educators meet state and federal standards and establish a roadmap for the future.”

About SciTech Institute

SciTech Institute is a nonprofit organization working to enhance and promote STEM awareness and engagement in Arizona and beyond. SciTech Institute strives to connect the STEM community and motivate individuals to pursue STEM-related career paths and get engaged in community events during the Arizona SciTech Festival as a way to help enrich their lives.

SciTech Institute is a collaborative initiative of the Arizona Technology Council and Arizona Commerce Authority. Visit https://scitechinstitute.org for more information. Follow SciTech Institute on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

For more information contact Dr. Jeremy Babendure, Executive Director of the SciTech Institute at jbabendure@scitechinstitute.org or 480-250-7764.

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