To help students gain early preparation and interested in Washington’s high-market STEM career areas, ESD 105 started up a new computer science initiative this past fall

…one in which some of the expertise is coming directly from both Facebook and Microsoft.

ESD 105 Helps Students Prepare for Washington's STEM Careers

ESD 105 computer science coordinator Larry Davison guides ESD 105 vision special Anabel Lamas through a demonstration of the Oculus Rift virtual reality system that the agency is helping provide to south central Washington’s schools.

The Yakima-based Washington Fruit & Produce Company is financially supporting much of the current year-long boost to help local schools introduce or sustain their K-12 computer science offerings. Already, that work has provided 16 classrooms in 11 of the region’s school districts with an Oculus Rift virtual reality equipment package from the Facebook TechStart program through which students can learn to code their own VR creations. The equipment’s visual capabilities also offer the potential to help students better understand art, world geography, and physical science. Facebook has previously only introduced TechStart in just Arkansas, and ESD 105 now has the largest TechStart cadre in the state of Washington.

The new ESD 105 computer science services also helped link up the region’s schools this past fall with Microsoft Philanthropies’ TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program, which uses videoconferencing to pair computer science professionals with classroom teachers to team-teach computer science — providing a particular benefit for schools that might not have the resources to provide technology instruction otherwise.