PLTW Computer Science

Computer science program approved at TCC
Posted on 01/15/2019
Gov. Mike Parson

The Technical Career Center has been green-lighted to start a computer science program, after the governor chose Poplar Bluff High School as his backdrop location to sign House Bill 3 into law.

The new program received approval from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Thursday, Jan. 10, pending instructor certification through Project Lead the Way, a national provider of STEM curriculum and professional development. Teaching applicants are currently being solicited via the R-I district website

“Thanks to the Poplar Buff Board of Education for taking action on the legislation I sponsored in 2018 by approving a computer science program for the 2019/20 school year at Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center,” state Sen. Doug Libla said. “Missouri companies desire and depend on these 21st century skills.” 

Having handled the STEM Education and Computer Science Bill during a special legislative session, Libla accompanied Missouri Gov. Mike Parson in October for the bill signing at PBHS. In December, the school board unanimously approved adding the program at the TCC, where start-up funds for in-demand career fields are designated. 

Among other components, HB 3 will establish a fund for public and private financial support. The district will use federal Perkins money for initial costs including paying the salary of the teacher, and matching enhancement grants will be submitted for classroom equipment such as student workstations, pending board approval later this week. 

“The industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and everything is pointing to the fact the Missouri’s skillsets need to expand massively to meet the needs of our community as well as outside the community,” stated Charles Kinsey, TCC director. “Computational thinking and web development skills will [produce] more rounded future employees who are valuable now in Southeast Missouri all the way to Silicon Valley, with the full culmination of a four-year engineering degree.” 

Lawmakers have estimated that 10,000 related jobs available statewide today are being outsourced, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. In a series of program support letters to the Board of Education, stakeholders cited the need for qualified students in order to keep hiring local. 

“Simple knowledge and experience of applicants with Microsoft Word and Excel is no longer considered to be skilled with computers,” noted Ryan Wells, John J. Pershing VA Medical Center executive assistant. Wells reportedly wrote a computer code that has saved the hospital thousands of man-hours. 

Under PLTW, students will learn to create problem-solving apps; simulate large-scale problems and hypothesize solutions; use code to manipulate images and automate the editing process; examine the ethical and societal issues of how computing and connectivity are changing the world; and identify online security weaknesses and design solutions, according to the nonprofit organization. 

The TCC will continue to look to recruit juniors and seniors for next school year from PBHS as well as its sending schools in order to fill the program. Under the recent legislation, the courses will count as high school graduation credit. School officials will explore a weighted AP module when developing the classes with the instructor and advisory board members from area industries. 

“I would like to commend Mr. Kinsey for his work on this,” R-I Superintendent Dr. Scott Dill said during last month’s school board meeting. “He was charged with growing programs that are 21st century so we can start building a brighter future for kids at the TCC.” 

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Cutline (File photo): Surrounded by Student Council, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs the STEM Education and Computer Science Bill into law on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Poplar Bluff High School.

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