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Is Idaho preparing students enough for STEM jobs?

Is Idaho preparing students enough for STEM jobs?
Posted at 4:07 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 19:17:42-04

There’s a national push to incorporate computer science in public education, and our neighboring state, Wyoming, recently became one of the few states that require K-12 public schools to offer computer science.

This draws the question, how far away is Idaho from implementing something similar? The answer isn't so simple.

“It's educators who come to us and say, 'hey were hearing about this in the economy or in a certain job sector and we need to figure out how to get our kids prepared,'" said executive director of Idaho STEM Action Center Dr. Angela Hemingway, "so our philosophy was lets get the educators trained and in place before we move to anything that required,"

Preparing educators is the first step towards preparing students. This summer, 11 school districts across Idaho, from Boise to Hailey, participated in a ‘VR4Ed' program through the center, which teaches educators basics of computer science that can be incorporated at all grade levels.

“The goal was to really focus on Idaho computer science standards and really help them understand computational thinking, logic, programming, just a variety of different skills that students are going to need as they create their own world and think about their future careers," said Hemingway.

Idaho does not currently require K-12 computer science education, but that might not be too far off. A new law was recently enacted that requires all high schools to offer at least one computer science course to their students.

“We have a state plan for computer science, we have state science standards, we have a lot of opportunities going on in Idaho and plenty of momentum as we move through our computer science initiative," said Hemingway.