TEALS stands for Technology Education and Literacy in Schools. Teals help high schools build and grow sustainable computer science programs through partnerships between classroom teachers and technology industry volunteers. There are two high school course offerings Introduction to Computer Science and Advanced Placement computer science.
Uniontown High School implemented the introductory course with Mrs. Hough in 2018. This course utilizes a visual programming language for computational thinking. Students create and run programs using the Snap program that was developed by a former high school CS teacher & Microsoft engineer, Kevin Wang in 2009 and is supported by Microsoft Philanthropies. Students are introduced to new solving techniques each lesson then they apply the code to create a new program. Mrs. Hough said, “So far we have created scenes from nursery rhymes and cartoons. Learning computer science empowers our students to compete in the global economy and pursue careers across all sectors. Snap teaches our students computational thinking and problem solving skills applicable in any industry.”
We asked UHS principal, Mr. Manges, about the new course offering at Uniontown High School. He said, “For a few years, students had been inquiring about a computer class that delved into programming. I am fortunate to have a close friend, Dan Pisula, that works for Microsoft at their offices in Pittsburgh. I had been asking him about computer programming, which languages were used the most, which would be most beneficial to high school students. Following these conversations, he attended a corporate event and met a colleague that was associated with the TEALS program. After discussing the program with the colleague, he connected me with the program representative. Mrs. Sefcheck and I were interviewed by the TEALS representative at which time we expressed our interest to run the Introduction to Computer Science course. Following the interview, TEALS informed us that UAHS was accepted into the program. The program was approved by Ms. Harris and our school board and we were off and running.”
He also added that there are many benefits of the program for our students. “The curriculum and software for the course are absolutely free. Mrs. Hough has been willing to spend lots of extra time training herself which has also saved the district resources. Our students can now take advantage of a programming course and get to interact with real-world computer engineers both in person and via video-conferencing. Computer programming exists in nearly every aspect of life and in every career field. We feel that this course could have a major impact on the future of many students here at UAHS.”
We asked student Kevin Nototney who is currently taking the computer science course his opinion on the new offering. Kevin said, “You learn what is going on inside of the computer, and it makes you appreciate the work that goes into them. I like being able to take a programming class before going off to college.”