Computer Science December Newsletter

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December 2019

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Computer Science Education Week is December 9-13.  

  1. Listen as Jenny Nichtals at Estherville Lincoln Central CSD talks about CSEdWeek,
  2. Plan your activities,
  3. Then tell the world how you do CS Education Week with any, or all, of the following:
    • Invite a school board member, the mayor, your state legislator, etc. to your classroom or event
    • Engage your families and host a Family Computer Science night
    • Tweet it #CSforIA

 Additional resources, thanks to the Grant Wood AEA Digital Learning Team.


Making lesson plans for next semester? Take note!

As one semester starts winding down, we turn our attention to the next. As you start drafting your lesson plans, try something different: Bring a hands-on, real-world project into your classroom.

Educators who are doing this will tell you this much: It brings a deeper level of understanding to your students of your subject matter. Subjects that may seem remote or irrelevant suddenly become real. Real-world projects engage students like never before.

Check out the projects on the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning. There are well over 100 projects there; the businesses are eager to work with you and your students.

Want to get started but need a bit of guidance? Call your AEA representative. Other questions? Contact the Iowa Department of Education’s Jake Welchans at


ISTE Computational Thinking Competencies

Let’s integrate CT across all disciplines, with all students = CT competencies for educators

“Our goal is to help all learners become computational thinkers who can harness the power of computing to innovate and solve problems. These competencies are intended to help educators build those skills by integrating computational thinking (CT) across all disciplines and with students of all ages.” And they connect to Iowa’s Computer Science Standards!


Binary example

Love Texas Hold’em? Political Strategy? Business Negotiations?

Artificial intelligence has now pretty much conquered poker. Now, a card shark AI dubbed Pluribus has outplayed more than a dozen elite professionals at six-player Texas Hold’em, researchers report online July 11 in Science. Algorithms that can plot against several adversaries using such spotty information could make savvy business negotiators, political strategists or cybersecurity watchdogs.


Learn for Free

Introduction to Computational Thinking for Every Educator

In the digital age, computational thinking (CT) is an essential skill for students and educators alike. This systematic approach to solving problems is at the foundation of not just computer science, but many other subject areas – and careers – as well.

Developed with support from Google, Introduction to Computational Thinking for Every Educator unpacks how CT can be integrated throughout subject areas and grade levels. Through this course, you’ll increase your awareness of CT, experiment with CT-integrated activities for the subject areas you teach, and create a plan to incorporate CT into your curricula.

Spring 2020 Session: February 10 - April 5



PAEMST is the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. It is the nation's highest honors for teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM, including computer science). This year's awards will honor science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teachers working in grades K-6. Nominations close on March 1, 2020.

Why Apply?
Recipients of the award receive the following:

  • A certificate signed by the President of the United States.
  • A paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities.
  • A $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.
  • An opportunity to build lasting partnerships with colleagues across the nation.



Computer Science Web page

Iowa's Computer Science Standards

Follow me at @wrenhoffman and be sure to use the hashtag #CSforIA

Share a story or an experience and I’ll include it in the next newsletter.