ALTOONA, PA — Governor Tom Wolf’s PAsmart initiative is expanding opportunities for students to learn about science and technology education and prepare them for success in their future, officials from the departments of Labor & Industry and Education said at a recent computer science summit. The summit in Altoona is funded by a PAsmart grant.
“Governor Wolf’s PAsmart initiative is allowing us to partner with educators and the private sector to invest in science and technology education, so students are better prepared for the skilled jobs of today and the future,” said L&I Deputy Secretary Eileen Cipriani. “Making Pennsylvania a national leader in computer science and STEM education is good for workers, benefits businesses and strengthens the economy for everyone.”
The governor secured $70 million for PAsmart over two years, including $40 million for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and computer science education and $30 million for job training.
During the summit, Cipriani and Judd Pittman, Special Consultant to the Secretary of Education on STEM, delivered keynote addresses to school administrators, teachers, higher education faculty and staff, public library staff, and business and industry leaders on the opportunities to expand computer science education and STEM opportunities in their region.
Funded by a $498,495 PAsmart advancing grant from PDE, the summit was hosted by the Southern Alleghenies STEM Ecosystem, an organization of schools, public libraries, higher education institutions, and businesses/industries in the four counties of Cambria, Somerset, Blair and Bedford to promote collaboration and provide opportunities for education, training, and resource sharing across the region.
“Since we received the PAsmart grant, we have been able to provide training to local librarians on using STEM equipment for programming, conduct a workshop with the help of a consultant to assist us in positioning the ecosystem to obtain national recognition, and increase the STEM equipment able to be borrowed by the schools and the public libraries,” said Barbara Zaborowski, Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, and member of the Southern Alleghenies STEM Ecosystem. “We have fostered an increased awareness of the ecosystem among all of our stakeholders.”
PAsmart advancing grants are high-level comprehensive grants meant to support entities that have 50 or more students participating in computer science and STEM experiences. These grants give regions a chance to expand computer science and STEM ecosystems, offer computer science and STEM experiences to historically underserved populations, and to increase the pool of computer science and STEM educators.
PAsmart has made Pennsylvania a national leader in STEM and computer science education and accomplishments under Governor Wolf include:
- Ranking second in the nation for investments in computer science education;
- Advancing Pennsylvania to third in the nation in the number of nationally-recognized STEM ecosystems and making the commonwealth the fifth largest producer of STEM graduates;
- Establishing standards for computer science education in all Pennsylvania schools;
- Joining the Governors’ Partnership for K-12 Computer Science, a bipartisan initiative organized by Code.org, to advance policy, funding, and professional learning for computer science education.
PDE will soon accept applications for $20 million in PAsmart grants that will be awarded this school year. For more information about the grants, visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.pa.gov.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education
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