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Computer science programs to increase in Hawaii schools

May 30, 2018

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Board of Education has adopted the national Computer Science Teachers Association’s K-12 Computer Science Standards, joining a growing national movement.

The board, Legislature and the University of Hawaii have taken action to increase computer science programs in schools in response to positive feedback by students, The Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

Legislators on May 1 passed a bill that provides $500,000 for teacher training in computer science and mandates every public high school to offer the subject by 2021. The bill awaits Gov. David Ige’s signature.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa landed a three-year National Science Foundation grant worth nearly $1 million to train public school teachers to teach courses in computer science principles. The first cohort of teachers will be trained this summer.

This academic year, 21 of the state’s 45 public high schools offered computer science. Students at the other campuses can sign up to study it online.

“The myth is that computer science is just coding, but it is beyond coding,” said Hilary Apana-McKee, administrator for the Learning and Technology Section of the Department of Education. “It is promotion of skill sets that we want our students to have when they graduate, versus just computer science.”

A separate grant awarded to University of Hawaii Manoa will provide scholarships for students pursuing cybersecurity-related degrees. The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program aims to train cybersecurity professionals to enter the government workforce. It runs through 2021 and is worth about $1 million a year.

Younger kids are also getting on the bandwagon. The new cybersecurity club at Kailua Intermediate school, the Junior Surfriders, recently came out on top in their division in their first CyberPatriot state competition. The team had to manage the network of a small company and detect vulnerabilities in its operating system.

“We used to be afraid of burglars entering our houses, but there is a new type of thief in cyberspace and with cybersecurity we can stay one step ahead of people who try to steal information,” said Elijah Neighbarger, an eighth-grader on the winning team.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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