EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

Google grant will expand access to computer science in Utah

Nov 6, 2023, 5:44 PM | Updated: 6:07 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Google announced an exciting milestone for Utah’s students from K-12 with a grant for computer science classes.

“Computer science is becoming more and more relevant in all careers across the board,” said MJ Henshaw, the public affairs manager with Google.

It can be impossible to avoid using a computer in many career fields, so Utah educators are promoting computer science education at a young age.

“In Utah, you have a growing tech sector with silicon slopes, so there more and more computer science-specific jobs in Utah, but there’s also more jobs that are being created that involve computer science,” Henshaw said.

Salt Lake and Davis county students at the Google lecture. (KSL TV)

Google announced the $80,000 grant to Utah’s 4-H during a coding lecture for middle school students from Salt Lake and Davis counties. The grant will give access to computer science programs to 5,000 students in every county across the state.

“There’s a lot of rural communities who don’t have the resources to computer science education, so online curriculum that’s being provided by 4-H can reach those communities that don’t maybe readily have those resources,” Henshaw said.

Dave Francis, the director of Extension Youth Programs at Utah State University, said they want to encourage the next generation to use computers to solve problems.

“We want to find ways and say how can we engage a new set of youth that will say, ‘I can use computer science to solve the problem I’m passionate about,'” Francis said. “Whether that be the environment or food insecurity, we want them to understand that problem-solving and computer science is part of the answer.”

According to a recent study, 91% of high school students in Utah go to a school that offers computer science, but only 10% actually enroll in a course.

Educational leaders hope to shed light on the possibilities that come from computer science and change that trend.

“Computers can be really good tools to help educated kids, by training them on these basic skills, they can use it as a positive thing in their life and not maybe something negative,” Henshaw said.

 

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Google grant will expand access to computer science in Utah