Funds will allow creation of video library, case study for training program
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (November 28, 2023) – As computer science becomes a greater focus in Iowa classrooms, educators want young students to get as much of a head start as possible.
With the help of a newly-announced grant from Google, NewBoCo’s Tiny Techies program aims to accomplish that goal.
Google announced Wednesday that it is awarding $10,000 to the Tiny Techies professional development program, which supports Pre-K through 2nd grade teachers with training on foundational computer science concepts and how they relate to young students. Tiny Techies workshops allow teachers to work with “Squishy Circuit” materials, basic robotics, pattern recognition, and more.
“Google is proud to support the Tiny Techies program because early childhood education lays a foundation for future success,” said Shawdee Monroe, Google’s Tech Education Outreach Lead. “The program will help provide the building blocks for computer science skills in an innovative way, and supporting the educators who teach these young learners is the critical first step.”
By teaching the fundamentals of computer science, Tiny Techies is designed to get students ready for the careers of tomorrow.
Yet there are no screens involved. No laptops. No iPads. Instead, organizers say, Tiny Techies is designed to help students build computational thinking and problem-solving skills.
“Tiny Techies is approachable, creative, and gives educators the confidence to help our youngest learners think like computer scientists,” says NewBoCo Director of K-12 Education Samantha Dahlby.
Google’s grant will fund the gathering of data for a Tiny Techies case study, as well as the beginning of a video library that features previous participants as they implement lessons in the classroom. Organizers will be looking for a variety of student situations and demographics.
More than 300 educators have participated in Tiny Techies workshops since 2022. Participation by educators across the state was supported by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Council STEM Scale-Up Program.
NewBoCo’s professional development workshops are designed to help teachers of all backgrounds learn how to teach and integrate CS into their instruction, as well as how to build lessons into their existing curriculum outline instead of trying to fit an entirely new module in their lesson plans.
While there is increasing demand for CS education across Iowa, there are few early childhood professional development opportunities in the state. Tiny Techies aims to fill that gap.
Assistant K-12 Education Director Alison Mohr says that while Tiny Techies can give young children a good foundation for computer science classes later on, it also provides them with skills they will need no matter what they’re working on.
“They are more prepared for any subject,” she says. “This program really focuses on thinking skills and problem-solving, and the skills that kids will need in order to be successful everywhere. So it will help them in computer science, yes, but it goes much further than that.”
The creation of the Tiny Techies case study and video library will take place in 2024.
The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo) is a 501(c)(3) organization located in the New Bohemia neighborhood of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. NewBoCo’s programming supports entrepreneurship, innovation and tech education to help Iowans become more resilient and thrive in a changing economy.
Google has called Iowa home for more than a decade and its first data center in Council Bluffs broke ground in 2007. Since then, Google has invested more than $5 billion in Iowa and established a long-term commitment to the state. Google has created hundreds of jobs at its Iowa facilities and has awarded more than $3 million to local schools and nonprofits in Iowa.
About Tiny Techies
The Tiny Techies professional development program, which supports PreK through 2nd grade teachers, provides training on foundational computer science concepts and how they relate to young students. Rather than actually using computers and screens, Tiny Techies workshops allow teachers to work with “Squishy Circuit” materials, basic robotics, pattern recognition, and more.