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LU hosts computing workshop for K-12 teachers

Lamar University is hosting a free workshop designed to teach K-12 school teachers across Southeast Texas fundamental computing concepts and help them develop curriculum materials for the coming year.

Nine Lamar University undergraduate computer science students are leading the workshop that targets K-12 school teachers who teach computer science, science, technology, and math. The workshop is aimed to help teachers from Nederland, Evadale, Houston, Port Arthur, Kirbyville and Beaumont to learn how to use a program used to build games, designed to expose students to computing at an early age in an effort to reach more students. With the help of CS undergraduate students, the teachers will develop curriculum material for the following semesters.

“I love to make games to reinforce class concepts,” said Christy Gibson, 2nd grade teacher at Kirbyville Elementary. “With this program, I can do that. Games make learning fun and encourage students to want to practice necessary skills.”

The workshop, which began Monday and continues through Friday, is sponsored by the Lamar University Department of Computer Science and National Science Foundation. Jane Liu, associate professor of computer science at LU, organized the event, which takes place on the Lamar University campus.

“The program lets students have something simple to understand which encourages their use,” said Elizabeth Hancock, K-5 teacher at Eliot Elementary School/ Elementary DAEP. “I can’t wait to incorporate the program into my curriculum.”

“In the workshop, I have learned how to use different games to give students extra practice,” said Misty Gibson, 2nd and 3rd grade teacher at Evadale Elementary. “Right now, I’m trying to make a game where kids have to go through level 1 and identify all the items that are solid and whenever they can do that, they go to level 2 where they find all the items that are liquids, and so on.”

Students leading the sessions are undergraduate research assistants with Liu’s High Performance Computing Lab (HPCL) at LU.  Student tutors are with the HPCL and STAIRSTEP programs. Funded by NSF at Lamar, both programs are intended to increase the number of students graduating in computer science and related fields.  

“This program lets students determine if this is a desired field they should pursue in the future,” said Katherine Whitney, 8th grade science teacher at Central Middle School, Nederland. “It will open up students’ eyes to realize how much work is involved in creating a game.”

“In the workshop I learned different ways to do a lesson to attract kids’ interests,” said Alecia Boling, who has taught 5th grade math and science for 13 years at Martin Elementary in Beaumont. “I learned how to interpret a lesson into a game. I am excited to incorporate this into the classroom,” she said.

Lamar University undergraduates Josh Wilson, Bena, and David Hemmenway, Beaumont, developed the workshop as well as teaching. Other LU student tutors are Zebulun Barnett, Lumberton; Ethan Phillip Hasson, Winnie; Yingbo Xu, Beaumont; Christopher Maddox, Beaumont; J.T. Copeland, Netherland; Matthew Williamson, Hardin; and Markus A Schultz, Groves.

This workshop will be offered next summer as well.