DoD grant funds STEM program expansion in Copperas Cove schools

Special to Leader-Press 

From the use of gingerbread men to Star Wars, Copperas Cove ISD has been teaching its students how to do computer coding for several years. But, thanks to a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity, Cove ISD is expanding its focus on coding and growing its STEM program.
The DoDEA grant pilots the integration of Computer Science in to the core curriculum districtwide, said CCISD DoDEA grant director Tori Noon.  
“Skillsets that will be developed for students as a part of Operation: Copperas Cove Codes are logical thinking, problem solving, recognition of patterns and algorithms, persistence, collaboration, and communication,” Noon said.
According to the Committee on STEM Education of the National Science and Technology Council, it is critical to national security that students spark interest in critical and fast-growing careers in STEM and the K-12 education system is poised to increase and sustain student preparation for more rigorous secondary and postsecondary coursework. 
“Operation: Copperas Cove Codes will improve the percentage of military-connected students achieving ‘Met’ and ‘Mastered’ grade level on the Math STAAR in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.  
“This grant is designed to prepare educators to address the academic challenges that military-connected students experience and prepare them for success in their post-secondary education and chosen career fields,” Noon said.
At CCISD, in-class integration of Computer Science and Coding instructional strategies and extra-curricular opportunities will be offered to increase students’ computational, mathematical, and problem-solving skills. Computer Coding exercises led by cross-curricular teachers and paired with specific content skills will result in higher levels of computational thinking, synthesis of mathematical concepts and higher academic aptitude.  
Copperas Cove ISD is the only school district in the world to currently have four active DoDEA grants. Three other DoDEA projects in CCISD continue to be implemented effectively, resulting in academic gains. These grants increase postsecondary readiness through rigorous courses including advanced placement and dual credit while preparing students for success on the TSI, PSAT, SAT, and ACT;  increase reading literacy through focused programs such as Tell Me a Story Nights and summer reading camps; increase accessibility of college through the Early College Program through the Advancement Via Individual Determination and Socratic tutoring.
All DoDEA grants contain a socio-emotional component that is supported through Student2Student, before and after school clubs at all CCISD elementary, junior high and high schools, to connect students to the community. The four grants contribute $3,750,000 to CCISD.

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