$1 million grant helps UNI reach computer science faculty

The program certifies Iowa teachers for new classroom requirements

CEDAR FALLS — After receiving a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the University of Northern Iowa has created a program to help Iowa teachers earn secondary education certificates in computer science.

Certified teachers are qualified to teach computer science in grades five through 12. The program is accepting admissions for the first batch starting in June.

The computer science education program at UNI helps meet the state requirement that Iowa schools offer at least one computer science course. The requirement is being implemented in Iowa high schools and will begin July 1 in elementary, seventh, and eighth grades.

“For NSF to entrust us with this type of award is a tremendous testament to UNI’s long history of high-quality teacher education,” said Ben Schafer, professor and program coordinator in the Department of Computer Science.

In addition to online lectures and coursework, instructors will participate in monthly in-person meetings at their local educational institutions. The first group is working with Central Rivers AEA, Grant Wood AEA and West North AEA.

The online program takes 18 months to complete. Up to 90 teachers will participate in the first group. From June 2024, the second group will double to almost 180.

The new program builds on a similar program in 2018 funded by a $300,000 NSF grant that helped in-service teachers earn computer services certification. The grant helped UNI officially launch its computer science education program.

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