Coding Reality at ASMSA

The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts is excited to announce a unique opportunity for Arkansas educators interested in learning more about Computer Science and 3D Printing. Through the ASMSA Coding Reality workshop, twenty middle school and high school teachers from ten school districts will receive hands-on experience, professional development credit, and a 3D printer to take back to their schools.

There is no fee for this workshop, and ASMSA will cover housing and meals for the duration of the stay. In return, participants are expected to host interdisciplinary learning experiences that promote Computer Science at their campuses using the resources and skills taken away.

The ASMSA Coding Reality workshop will be held June 6 – 8 in Hot Springs. Interested parties should read the Frequently Asked Questions Document and review the Coding Reality Agreement before applying online.

Applications are due by noon May 10, 2017. Districts accepted into the program must provide a signed copy of the agreement by June 1, 2017. Questions about this offering should be directed to Daniel Moix, ASMSA’s Computer Science Education Specialist, at or (501)622-5168.

Student Summer Camps at ASMSA

Summer at ASMSA offers exciting camps where rising sophomores can participate in fun and challenging programs focusing on art, music and acoustics, mathematics, computer programming, and robotics. Camps are tuition free and space is limited.

AEGIS PROJECT M.A.R.S. CAMP (July 16-21, 2017)

In conjunction with the Arkansas Department of Education, ASMSA is excited to offer Project M.A.R.S. (Mars Autonomous Robot System) Camp. Project M.A.R.S. Camp is a summer residential program for 32 rising sophomores. All applications will be seriously considered, however, students from low-income backgrounds will be given preference. The camp will provide an exciting hands-on experience in the field of robotics. Camp activities will center on building and controlling robots in the context of performing tasks remotely on Mars and the creation of mobile apps for robot control.

NERD C.A.M.P. (June 18-23, 2017)

ASMSA is a place where the state’s top students in mathematics and computer science can soar among talented peers. Nerd C.A.M.P. (Computational Analysis, Math and Programming) will help students understand the links between subjects through classes in mobile app development, number theory, and other mathematic principles. We wear the name “nerd” as a badge of pride because being a nerd means getting excited about technology and solving problems. Students should have strong prior experiences in math and an interest in coding.


As part of ASMSA’s efforts to expand opportunities for students interested in fine arts and humanities within the school’s residential program, we’re excited to offer the Summer Arts Bridge. Students may choose to participate in one of the following experiences.

  • Studio Art is an activities-based initiative to help grow students’ excitement about the arts. Students will engage in different processes including oil painting, observational drawing, collage, abstract design, basic wood shop skills, and art criticism.
  • Folk Music offers Arkansas students a chance to learn to play and perform folk songs, build a working 4-string guitar, and explore the physics behind the production of sound and music. No previous experience or musical training is required.

Selection for all camps is competitive. Students must be rising sophomores for each camp. All camp activities — including tuition, housing, meals and class supplies — are free. Applications will be accepted until all spots are filled, with preference given to students who complete their application by April 30, 2017.

Learn more and apply online at


Arkansas high school teachers and districts interested in learning to teach Computer Science are invited to join ASMSA’s Computer Science Plus program this summer and next school year. In short, ASMSA will be mentoring a cohort of teachers in the new Computer Science I and Computer Science II courses which are replacing Essentials of Computer Programming.

The program begins with a boot camp at ASMSA June 25 – 30 followed by year-long support using digital learning tools including Canvas LMS, Zoom Video Conferencing, and a ton of Google Forms. The cost is $500, which includes housing and meals on our campus during the boot camp, digital delivery of the curriculum, and a full year of support.

Sign up using this form, and we will be in contact with a formal agreement between your school and ours.

The Details

What’s CS I & II? These are a pair of one-semester courses that replace Essentials of Computer Programming next year. CS I and II are a framework that can be taught as CS with an emphasis in coding, CS with an emphasis in mobile application development, CS with an emphasis in security, CS with an emphasis in networking, or CS with an emphasis in robotics. ASMSA CS+ teaches CS with an Emphasis in Programming, courses 465010 and 465020.

What’s ASMSA CS+? CS+ is a year-long partnership between an Arkansas school district and ASMSA. The district identifies a teacher and a group of students interested in learning CS I & II. ASMSA provides professional development, curriculum, and year-long support as the on-site teacher learns to teach CS I & II. The students earn credit for the course which meets Act 1280 (digital learning) and Act 187 (HS coding) requirements for the district. ASMSA CS+ teaches CS with an Emphasis in Programming, courses 465010 and 465020.

What Happened to ECP? Arkansas has laid out plans for a comprehensive K through 12 Computer Science pathway. Students entering high school next fall will have greater exposure to CS concepts than ever before, and they should be ready for a more rigorous high school computer science experience. Many of the concepts from ECP are present in CS I & II, although they may be at an enhanced level of rigor. I have prepared a crosswalk between the two that you may find helpful.

Will there be apps? There will not be a substantial “app” component built into the course, although sites offering ASMSA CS+ will be eligible to participate in Apps for Good. We will grow coding skills in the Processing environment (designed for creating graphics and data visualization) before we transition to Java using a professional IDE to meet the data structures and algorithms objectives.

Is This Principles? No. ASMSA CS+ is a program specifically-designed to meet the Arkansas CS I & II learning objectives and to build in-state CS teaching capacity. It is not related to the Advanced Placement CS Principles course, which is not directly aligned with Arkansas CS I & II standards.

I encourage you to act quickly, as our next cohort is filling up faster than ever. If you have questions about the program, please contact Daniel Moix or Dave Slaymaker at ASMSA.

Animate Your Name!

Beginning next with the 2017-2018 school year, all districts in Arkansas will offer a “coding block” to students in grades 7 or 8.  Per the standards, this course must run a minimum of 5 weeks and include text-based coding and problem solving.

Codecademy, a company that hosts self-paced online lessons for several programming languages, recently released a very short JavaScript activity that teaches you how to animate your name.  This is perfect for standards A.2.B.1 and A.2.B.2!

There’s sufficient scaffolding in the activity that teachers with minimal experience should easily be able to support students completing the exercise.  There is nothing to install, either.  As it runs completely in the browser, it should run just fine on Chromebooks.

I felt their coverage of conditionals was a tad disconnected from the activity, so would encourage you to teach it with this modification:  Have students create a final product that draws short names with squares and long names with bubbles.

New Year, New Courses

The high school computer science landscape is changing next year in Arkansas.  Whereas there was previously a fragmented patchwork of courses and codes (some earning elective credit, others earning mathematics credit, and a subset counting toward CTE programs) the new courses and standards mesh sensibly together.

Previous courses, codes and credits

All previous courses and codes such as CTE Programming 1 and 2 are no longer valid beginning next year.

The new standards are available on the ADE Computer Science Standards page, but helpful details including the new course codes are available in the ADE Computer Science Fact Sheet.

Any of the previous introductory programming courses — Essentials of Computer Programming, Programming 1, Computer Science & Mathematics — should be replaced with the new Computer Science 1 & Computer Science 2 courses.

K-8 CS Standards Crosswalk

Beginning next year schools in Arkansas will incorporate the K-8 Computer Science Embedded Standards (K-4, 5-8) into everyday classroom instruction.  To help with this, the Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative has brought together classroom teachers, library media specialists, and computer science content specialists to explore the connections between the new standards and existing ELA, Mathematics, and Science standards.

The results of these workshops are available right now, and new additions are on the way.  Questions about the standards and alignments can be answered by any of the ADE Computer Science Specialists.


Arkansas Computer Science Praxis Boot Camp

Arkansas educators planning to teach high school computer science are invited to apply for a three-day CS Praxis “Boot Camp” to be held March 31 – April 2 in Hot Springs.

Housing, meals, materials, and 18 hours of ADE-approved professional development credit will be provided at no cost. Educators will be responsible for their own transportation to and from ASMSA and the $120 registration cost for the Praxis exam. Twenty applicants will be chosen for this workshop.

Application deadline is February 10, 2017. Notifications will be made by February 17.

ASMSA is #codingARfuture.

Arkansas Middle School Coding Block Boot Camp

Arkansas educators planning to teach the 7th/8th grade coding block are invited to apply for the Dare To Code “Boot Camp” to be held June 6 – 8 in Hot Springs.

Housing, meals, materials, and 18 hours of ADE-approved professional development credit will be provided at no cost to the twenty applicants selected to attend. The coding block standards will be introduced and participants will receive tools and strategies to prepare their students to meet these standards. Educators will be responsible for their own transportation to and from ASMSA.

The application deadline is March 24, 2017. Notifications will be made by April 7.

ASMSA is #codingARfuture.

Essentials of Computer Programming Plus for 2016-2017

Want to teach 9-12th grade Essentials of Computer Programming with a full year of support?  Check out ASMSA’s ECP Plus program and join the community of educators already experiencing phenomenal success with the course.ECP+ Cohort

We are seeking districts with faculty members interested in computer science education, who are considering the computer science PRAXIS, or who are simply enthusiastic about exploring new content areas as local support for the class. ASMSA’s nationally-acclaimed computer science education specialist will serve as the primary instructor and teacher-mentor for the course, providing instruction digitally three days per week. Participating faculty will provide direct student support two additional days per week as learners experience the hands-on, practical components of computer science. To prepare teachers for this support role, ASMSA will offer a one-week, residential professional development program in late July 2016. Housing in ASMSA’s Student Center and meals will be provided to participating districts. Teachers will join a professional learning community of others new to this subject and benefit from ongoing mentorship throughout the year. The cost for summer professional development (including housing and meals), curriculum development, and weekly support is $2,250.00 $500.

Space for the program is limited.  Sign up here or for additional information please contact

David Slaymaker
Assistant Dean for Outreach


Daniel Moix
ASMSA Computer Science Education Specialist

Online CS Course for Arkansas Educators

Arkansgreylogoas Tech University will offer a graduate course online during Spring 2016 entitled “Introduction to Computer Science.” This course will be geared toward licensed educators with little or no experience in computer science. Educators who would like to learn more about the discipline and/or to look at the possibility of adding the Computer Science licensure to their teaching license are encouraged to enroll in this course. For those that did not pass the Computer Science Praxis this year, this course meets the 3-hour college course requirement of the ALP set forth by ADE.

Students will be required to attend a one-day orientation session on the ATU campus on Saturday, January 9, to get their laptop set up with required software and get an overview of the course. The remainder of the course will be administered online from January 11 to May 3.

For more information, please contact:

Mrs. Rebecca Cunningham
Visiting Assistant Professor
Computer and Information Science Department
Arkansas Tech University
Phone: 479.880.4610