CAST: Computation and Science for Teachers
Computation and Science for Teachers (CAST) introduces computational reasoning and computational tools into the high school math and science curriculum. The CAST Professional Development Program is an integrated set of modules to train teachers on how to incorporate computational reasoning and tools, such as modeling and simulation, into their curriculum. The first set of modules present a complete program on how to USE models and simulations in the classroom. A second set of modules focus on how to CREATE models and simulations. All instructional materials are available here.
CAST is a joint program of PSC, along with the Maryland Virtual High School and the Western PA Math & Science Collaborative.
The CAST program is motivated by the current crisis in science and technology education in the U.S. In a landmark 2005 report "Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future" from a joint committee of the National Academies, they wrote:
"...the committee is deeply concerned that the scientific and technical building blocks of our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength. We fear the abruptness with which a lead in science and technology can be lost - and the difficulty of recovering a lead once lost, if indeed it can be regained at all."
Their first recommendation: "Increase America's talent pool by vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education."
The CAST program proposes to bring to the classroom the same problem-solving, technology-rich approaches currently used in scientific research and in business. Computational science has become a powerful paradigm to complement other approaches. Computational tools, ranging from spreadsheets on microprocessors to advanced molecular modeling tools on supercomputers, are allowing scientists to model processes too costly or impossible to investigate in other ways. Computational tools such as modeling and simulation can be considered a new way of doing science, along with experimentation to test a hypothesis. Often the analytical solutions provided by computational science help students to better understand the complex scientific concepts.Financial support for the CAST program provided by: The DSF Charitable Foundation, the Henry C. Frick Fund of the Buhl Foundation, and the Grable Foundation.