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The University of Alabama

Google Awards UA Computer Science Grant

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Google recently awarded Dr. Jeff Gray, associate professor of computer science at The University of Alabama, a $15,000 grant to fund a computer science program for high school teachers July 25-27.

UA is one of a few universities to receive the grant, and it is one of only two schools in the Southeast to receive the honor.

The Computer Science for High School, or CS4HS, program, an initiative sponsored by Google, aims to promote computer science education. With a grant from Google’s Education Group, universities around the world receive funding for three-day workshops for high school teachers.

During UA’s workshop, about 30 high school teachers throughout Alabama and the Southeast will learn how to develop Android applications and will be informed about emerging computer science curricula. The teachers can then take their knowledge and apply it directly within their schools by developing apps for their classroom and introducing concepts of computer science to their students.

The workshop at UA will focus specifically on Scratch and Google’s App Inventor. Scratch is a programming language geared toward young people. It allows users to easily create interactive programs, animations, games, music and art that can be shared on the web. Google’s App Inventor is a visual block language that can be used to easily create Android apps.

Google’s support will cover the cost of the program including all meals, housing and transportation. Participating teachers will work on a small project that will serve as examples to post on the website and share with Google.

The goal of the workshop is to afford teachers the opportunity to incorporate more computer science initiatives into their classes. The workshop will seek to unite those with much experience in teaching computer science with those who possess a strong interest in the topic but are unsure of how to incorporate their ideas into the classroom.

“Our hope is that leadership in computer science education will be a motivator to other teachers who are interested in technology but not yet teaching it as deeply at their schools. We also hope that there will be networking opportunities to assist in sharing and encouraging each other regarding ideas for computer science education,” said Gray.

Gray will teach a majority of the material. Scratch will be taught by an educational team from MIT who developed the program. The remaining days of the workshop will be spent on Google’s App Inventor.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s fully accredited College of Engineering has more than 2,700 students and more than 100 faculty. In the last eight years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater scholars, Hollings scholars and Portz scholars.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Mary Wymer, engineering public relations, 205/348-6444, mwymer@eng.ua.edu; Lauren Musselman, engineering student writer, 205/348-3051