The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) announced today that it has received a federal grant of $3,638,787 from the Education Innovation and Research Program (EIR) of the U.S. Department of Education to expand the use of The Pack as a program to increase middle school student engagement in computational thinking (CT) across New York City public schools. The Pack program is comprised of an open world digital game, a supplemental CT curriculum, professional development activities, and online communities for teachers. The grant will enable NYSCI to accelerate the adoption of computational thinking in middle school science classrooms, which is an important part of New York City’s Computer Science for All initiative.
“There is an urgent need for an effective method of engaging middle school and high school students in computational thinking,” said Dr. Stephen Uzzo, NYSCI’s Chief Scientist. “This project aligns with New York City’s focus on the Computer Science for All initiative by providing teachers with new resources to foster students’ knowledge of computational thinking, while generating measurable gains in student engagement.”
Over the past ten years, both private and public funders have invested heavily in establishing computer science and computational thinking as fundamental components of U.S. grade school STEM education. These investments have led to the provision of standalone computer science courses, however, integration of CT concepts and practices into science instruction more broadly in K-12 classrooms has been deficient. Such an integration requires that teachers have access to high-quality resources that foster connections between CT and core academic science content, and professional development that integrates CT with the curriculum teachers are already required to teach. NYSCI will help teachers achieve this with The Pack program as well as sustained investments in professional development and support.
NYSCI, along with Participate (an online professional development provider) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR), will work together to create a sustainable, high quality and cost-effective scale-up strategy that will be developed and tested in 54 schools in Queens and Brooklyn that serve high percentages of students who do not have adequate opportunities to learn computational thinking. The total federal contribution of the grant is $3,638,787.00 and Participate will match $305,454 (10% of the federal grant) bringing the total dollar amount to $3,944,241.
About The Pack
Developed with support from the National Science Foundation and The JPB Foundation, The Pack is an open-world video game created by NYSCI and Design I/O, designed to teach the concepts of computational thinking and environmental sustainability. The Pack program, consisting of an app, curriculum, online resources and professional development activities, is designed to engage middle school students in standards-aligned computational thinking (CT) activities and support teachers in bringing CT into science instruction. The Pack is available as a free download for anyone to play on the App Store or on NYSCI.org/thepack.
About The New York Hall of Science
The mission of the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) is to nurture generations of passionate learners, critical thinkers and active citizens through an approach called Design, Make, Play. Design, Make, Play emphasizes open-ended exploration, imaginative learning and personal relevance, resulting in deep engagement and delight in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. NYSCI was founded at the 1964-65 World’s Fair and has evolved into New York’s center for interactive science serving a half million students, teachers and families each year. NYSCI is open Monday – Friday, 9:30 am – 5 pm and weekends, 10 am – 6 pm. General admission is $16 for adults and $13 for children (ages 2-17), college students with valid ID, and seniors (62+). For more information, visit classic.nysci.org or call 718-699-0005. Follow NYSCI on Twitter and Instagram: @nysci, and on Facebook at: facebook.com/nysci.
Lauren Parikhal, New York Hall of Science