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UNH-IOL Staff Provides Computer Science Enrichment Classes to 8th Graders at Dover Middle School

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), an independent provider of broad-based testing and standards conformance services for the networking industry and employer of over 120 college students, announces its participation in the ENCORE program at Dover Middle School. Two UNH-IOL employees are leading this enrichment course: Amy Davies, a University of New Hampshire Junior majoring in Computer Science, and Timothy Carlin (M.S. C.S.), Senior Manager at the UNH-IOL. The team is teaching computational thinking and problem solving to fifteen 8th-grade students and their teacher, using basic software development tools.

“This pilot program enables us to carry forward coding concepts to middle school level and to introduce more complexity and critical thinking,” says Carlin. Not all schools have the funding or expertise to teach common computer science classes. The goal of this program is to create an enrichment curriculum that exposes and teaches coding to students and the teacher, so that this program becomes sustainable for the school to continue on its own. Some of the students at Dover Middle School have experience with HTML coding or Scratch, an online programming tool developed at MIT that helps children learn to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. Carlin said, “We adapt our presentation and lesson plans to teach according to the pace of the individuals and how quickly concepts are learned.” The lessons are each 30 minutes long and there are 30 lessons total during the semester.

Partnering qualified UNH students and staff to work with educators at Dover Middle School is proving to be a success. Matthew Johnson, Dover Middle School 8th-grade Science teacher and founder of this program, is learning enough to teach the class on his own after this pilot ends in December. Johnson said, “Students learning computer science and code writing skills is imperative for the technology-based world we live in. The more students learn about coding, the more opportunities the student will have. There are so many online tools available for coding that many of my students are coding outside of this program on their own time.” Johnson has registered Dover Middle School for “The Hour of Code,” an event organized by code.org to educate students of all ages in Computer Science. This event is taking place during Computer Science Education week, December 9-15, 2013.

The UNH-IOL and Dover Middle School educators recognize the importance of exposing Computer Science to younger students as a foundation for any career in the 21st century. Hands-on experience is the model the lab has used for 25 years to prepare the next generation of engineers. Jenna Small, an 8th-grader taking the course said, “Coding is fun to do and this has been an experience. I didn’t know much about coding before this course.”

The Computer Science program kicked off in late October and will wrap up before the school’s holiday break in late December. For more information on the UNH-IOL’s K-12 STEM programs, please visit the UNH-IOL’s student resources page or contact Suzanne Snow at 603.862.1694.

About the UNH-IOL

Founded in 1988, the UNH-IOL provides independent, broad-based interoperability and standards conformance testing for data, telecommunications and storage networking products and technologies. Combining extensive staff experience, standards bodies participation and a 32,000+ square foot facility, the UNH-IOL helps companies efficiently and cost effectively deliver products to the market.

www.iol.unh.edu | Twitter @UNH_IOL | Facebook @UNHIOL | LinkedIn @UNH InterOperability Lab

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