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Education Computational Thinking in K-12 & the Future of Computer Science Education in Kansas

About the Session

This session draws from the research and experience of three Kansas State University faculty who specialize in creating and developing computer science curriculum and assessments for computational thinking in K-12.

Computational thinking is more than just a skill for computer scientists; it’s a form of literacy for the 21st century. Learn why it is crucial to introduce computational thinking at early educational stages and how it can be woven seamlessly into curricula at all levels. This session will also showcase how K-State’s K-12 education and research in Computer Science are evolving and their vision for the future.

Key Takeaways
  • Early Grades

    Understand the importance of computational thinking in early grades.

  • All Levels

    Learn actionable strategies to introduce computational thinking across various grade levels.

  • Current Initiatives

    Gain insights into K-State’s ongoing initiatives and research projects in K-12 Computer Science education.

  • The Future

    Explore future directions for expanding and enriching K-State’s role in cultivating computational thinking from an early age.

About the Speakers

Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Josh Weese

Dr. Joshua Weese

Kansas State University, Teaching Assistant Professor
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Dr. Joshua Weese

Kansas State University, Teaching Assistant Professor

Kevin and Jacquie Elmore – Carl and Mary Ice Cornerstone Teaching Scholar

Ph.D. – 2017, Kansas State University
Computer Science
M.S. – 2013, Kansas State University
Computer Science
B.S. – 2011, Kansas State Polytechnic
Computer Systems Technology

Professional Experience

Josh Weese received a bachelor’s degree from K-State Polytechnic in 2011. Weese has worked for Philips Lighting as a software engineer, Kasa Industrial Controls Inc. as an IT assistant and at the Cerner Corporation as a systems engineer intern. He then worked as a teaching and research assistant at K-State, and completed a master’s degree in 2011 and a doctorate in 2017.

Research

Weese has expertise in data science, software engineering, web technologies, computer science education research, and primary and secondary outreach programs. He has been a lead developer for the Data Explorer, a data analytics and visualization portal hosted by PhysPort by the AAPT. The portal enables physics faculty to upload assessment data to receive instant feedback including expert recommendations and customized visualizations.

His main area of focus is computer science education, particularly creating and developing curriculum and assessments for computational thinking for K-12. He is highly active in various outreach programs including Kansas STARBASE, Girl Scouts of the USA and USD 383 summer STEM camp. Weese has also participated in research ifor machine learning applications including polyphonic signal detection, parody detection, and text extraction.

Academic Highlights

Weese has published 11 refereed conference papers and two book chapters, and has presented multiple invited talks and workshops. He won second place in the 2014 Kansas State Research Forum in the Engineering, Math and Physical Sciences poster session and placed first in his group at the 2016 Kansas State Research and the State. He has served as a reviewer for four different conferences and multiple journals. Weese has been a highly active member in advocating for computer science education in Kansas including PK-12 model standards in 2019. Weese has developed, organized and led activities for several outreach programs for K-12 impacting well more than 4,000 students. These programs include GROW, EXCITE, USD 383 STEM Institute, Kansas STARBASE, Insight GK-12 and the Hour of Code. He has also developed and taught many other courses that include programming fundamentals, data structures, databases and computer science ethics. He is the current faculty mentor for the K-State Student Association for Computing Machinery chapter and serves as one of the mentors for the Diversity in Computing group in the CS department. Weese received the Teaching Excellence Award in the department of computer science in 2020 and was also named as a Kevin and Jacquie Elmore – Carl and Mary Ice Teaching Scholar the same year.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Nathan Bean

Dr. Nathan Bean

Kansas State University, Teaching Assistant Professor
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Dr. Nathan Bean

Kansas State University, Teaching Assistant Professor

Richard B. and Mary Jo Myers Cornerstone Teaching Scholar

M.A. – 2009, Kansas State University
English/Creative Writing
M.S. – 2005, University of Abertay Dundee
Computer Games Technology
B.S. – 2003, Kansas State University
Computer Science

Professional Experience

Nathan Bean has ten years of experience in the software development industry creating full-stack web applications for Envisage Consulting and Wellspring Web Design. He was the program coordinator for INSIGHT, a NSF-Funded program that partnered graduate students in Computer Science and other disciplines with teachers in K-12 schools to develop curriculum to bring sensor technology into the classroom. He also volunteers for the Boy Scouts of America, and is a certified COPE director.

Research

Bean’s primary area of research is at the intersections of education and computing, especially the use of computers, simulations, and games as learning tools. He is the current president of the Kansas Partnership for Applied Computational Thinking (KS-PACT), an organization that researches bringing computational thinking into K-12 classrooms as a tool for carrying out work in other disciplines (literature, music, mathematics, social studies and the sciences). As part of his KS-PACT activities, he is guiding the development of microworlds – programmable scientific simulations – and associated curriculum for use in K-8 schools.

He was also a researcher on the NSF-funded CI-TEAM project, which developed the concept of a “hackable glass box” simulation – a simulation that allowed students not only to examine how the simulation works, but to change and adapt it.

Bean has also been involved in several teacher preparation programs to bring computational thinking and computing into K-12, including the development of curriculum materials released under a creative commons license and available on his website. Additionally, his group conducted a pilot study of a mastery experience approach to developing teacher self-efficacy in computational thinking in fall 2013 and fall 2014. This two-hour intervention involved pre-service teachers from all discipline areas and demonstrated a large, statistically significant positive effect, pre (M=21.50, SD = 8.16) to post (M=31.75, SD=6.45),t(107)=13.613, p<.0001, Cohen’s effect size value (d=1.316) using an early short form of the Teacher Self-Efficacy for Computational Thinking (TSECT) instrument he developed.

Academic Highlights

Bean has developed a number of courses for the computer science department, including Introduction to Computer Science, Foundations of Game Programming, Game Engine Design and Web Interface Design. He is the mentor for the Game Development Club and E-Sports Club. He helped prepare the first Aesthesia event, organize the Annual K-State Invitational Game Jam, and helps with the CS department’s open house efforts every spring.

Bean has also utilized the software engineering project course he teaches to advance the research and extension mission of K-State. Student teams in the course are assigned a project drawn from needs of research faculty and community members, and are charged with creating a software-based solution. This gives the students real-world development experiences working on software that are addressing critical needs in agriculture, education, engineering, and other areas. All software developed through the class efforts are released under open-source licenses.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Russell Feldhausen

Russell Feldhausen

Kansas State University, Instructor
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Russell Feldhausen

Kansas State University, Instructor

Kevin and Jacquie Elmore Cornerstone Teaching Scholar

M.S. – 2018, Kansas State University
Computer Science
B.S. – 2008, Kansas State University
Computer Science

Professional Experience

Russell Feldhausen received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2008, and a master’s degree in computer science in 2018, both from Kansas State University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in computer science with a focus on computer science education, also at K-State.

From 2008-2012, he worked as a computer support specialist for the department of communications and agricultural education at K-State, where he assisted in supporting the computer systems of the department as well as K-State Research and Extension offices across the state.

In 2013 he began teaching in the department of computer science as an instructor and academic adviser. He primarily taught classes in introductory computer science and system administration. He was also the program coordinator for the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service program and a faculty advisor for several student organizations.

During the 2017-2018 school year, he worked as a graduate teaching assistant and full-time student at Kansas State University to complete his master’s degree and begin work on his doctorate.

Russell rejoined the department an instructor in 2018, and is currently working on developing new online courses for a computer science minor and hybrid degree program to begin fall 2019.

Research

Feldhausen’s research interest is computer science education. Working with colleagues at Kansas State University, their research has produced several papers published in ACM SIGCSE (Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education), ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education), and AERA (American Educational Research Association).

He has also served as a reviewer for ACM SIGCSE (Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education).

Feldhausen is active in computer science outreach programs and has worked with groups such as the Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 STEM Summer Institute, 4-H Discovery Days, Engineering Open House, Kansas STARBASE, and the KAWSE (K-State Office for the Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering) GROW & EXCITE programs.

Academic Highlights

He has co-authored papers on computer science education research, detailing his work with others in the department on several computer science outreach programs. He has also served as a paper reviewer for the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education.

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