Grants Pass High School will be one of only 80 schools in the nation to be awarded a $20,000 grant from Verizon for innovative learning. The Innovate Learning Grants are awarded to underserved schools with a mission to stimulate student’s interest in technology. The Grant provides much needed funds to STEM education, with the hope that the students will leave their schools having gained some of the marketable technology skills that are lacking in a large degree from the current workforce.
Grants Pass High School has developed a computer science program to teach relevant technology for the workforce. Students can learn introductory programming skills, app development for both iOS and Android, and be exposed to technology of all kinds. GPHS will also introduce an exploring computer science course which will expose students to robotics, problem solving, coding, web design, computing and data analysis, and human computer interaction. This course will give students the advantage of familiarity with technology in a wide variety of systems. The school also hopes to be able to draw from the Lego Mindstorms app development component of MIT’s program, App Inventor, using it to expand their app programming courses.
The biggest, and arguably most important addition to GPHS for the 2015-16 School year the school will be the introduction of a course called “Got Tech”. “Got Tech” will be geared toward generating more women in the tech industry including the principles of design, fabrication, manufacturing and marketing. Students will choose a problem to research, then go through all the phases from design to prototyping a final product using a 3D printer. Currently women earn more than 50% of all undergraduate degrees, but well below 20% of all degrees in computer science or information technology. The numbers in the workforce aren’t any better, Google employs one of the highest percentages of women on its technical staff at 17%. With numbers like that across the nation, it is easy to see that Grants Pass High School is undertaking an incredibly difficult task. The program will hopefully reduce some of the barriers to entry for young women, lowering the number of women that write off or overlook technology as viable paths to college or career.