Iowa STEM amped up on Java and other computer science tools

Highland Elementary students coding in Waterloo
Computer science is rapidly taking its place alongside reading, writing and arithmetic as a staple of modern education. Here, kindergartners at Highland Elementary School in Waterloo take a byte of coding.

Generation Z is type-cast as technology native—born with iPads in their cribs, raised with smartphones clutched in their grip, educated on digital global blackboards and bathed in WiFi waves connecting their cars, TVs and toasters. They’re accomplished consumers of technology. But how many could design an app, troubleshoot a software bug or critique the pros and cons of crowdsourcing?

The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is intent on equipping young Iowans to manage information technology—to produce, create and innovate—in a variety of ways. Out front is the Computer Science (CS) Working Group who delivered recommendations last summer that helped to shape legislation currently winding its way through the Capitol. It calls for the development of high-quality K-12 computer science standards, a teaching endorsement in CS and incentivizes schools to offer computer science classes.

Meanwhile, more than 500 classrooms, libraries and clubs across the state joined the Council’s Code Iowa project, supported by Google and Verizon investments, to introduce computer programming to thousands of youth last December, followed by teacher training on CS integration throughout this spring.

Simultaneously, dozens of schools across the state are scaling HyperStream and Project Lead The Way’s Introduction to Computer Science this year. And, the STEM operations team is assembling a state-customized CS matrix for Iowans to shop the burgeoning array of offerings available.

These and myriad other CS tactics unlock the code to Iowa’s rich CS future. Questions or interest regarding the Council’s CS working group may be directed to co-chairs Mark Gruwell or Ann Watts at or

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