Computational Thinking in STEM

Computational Thinking in STEM

Building Interest and Proficiency in Computational Thinking in STEM

Outcome: Our project introduces students to important 21st century skills by developing classroom activities that blend computational thinking ideas with STEM content. In taking this approach, we are able to reach a broad audience of students and provide teachers with classroom-ready materials including lesson plans and assessment items. These 21st century skills are important components of the Next Generation Science Standards and meeting the growing demand for STEM-field careers.


Impact/Benefit: Over 45 high school teachers will be trained in implementing these lessons in their classrooms. This means that over 1000 students are engaged with these materials. Because these lessons are implemented in traditional math and science classrooms in the Chicago area, they reach a broad cross-section of students, including students from under-represented groups in STEM.

Explanation: This is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Northwestern University  researchers in computer science, learning sciences, STEM researchers and local teachers.   In order to develop lesson plans, accompanying assessments, and teacher professional development workshops, researchers interviewed science and math professionals to identify a collective list of computational thinking skills used in STEM professions.  Currently in schools, these skills are either reserved for specialized classes that are taken by only a small subset of students, or not offered at all due to constraints on the school. In this project, we are designing computational thinking infused STEM activities that fit within existing high school courses. In doing so, we are providing a venue for all students to learn these important 21st century skills, as well as empowering teachers with training, support, and teaching materials that are easily implemented in various topics of their current curricula. In taking this approach, we see great potential for reaching the largest audience of learners in a way that is easily adopted by schools.


Broadcast of OSTP-led Federal Government Big Data Rollout - From the NSF website.

Obama Administration places $200 Million Bet On Big Data - SecurityWeek by Mike Lennon


This work is supported in part National Science Foundation under NSF grant CNS-1138461. However, any opinions, findings, conclusions, and/or recommendations are those of the investigators and do not necessarily reflect the views of  the Foundation.