May 12, 2011
Elementary-level school children in rural southwest Virginia will become the beneficiaries of an IBM Faculty Award presented to Wu Feng, associate professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech.
Prof. Feng is using the $16,000 award to develop and deliver a computer science curriculum to children in kindergarten through eighth grades via virtual computing. Mark Gardner of Virginia Tech’s Office of Information Technology is collaborating with this effort.
“We are extending and integrating our use of virtual computing with the Apache Virtual Computing Laboratory in order to improve the educational opportunities in science and engineering for students in rural and economically disadvantaged areas. The project will leverage an instantiation of the Virtual Computing Laboratory at Virginia Tech to host a visually-oriented computer science curriculum for kindergarten and elementary school children,” Prof. Feng said.
“The project will also allow the computing laboratory’s software to be more easily deployed across a broader diversity of organizations, as well as make virtual computing more accessible to elementary and middle school children,” Prof. Feng added.
Access to the curriculum hosted at Virginia Tech’s Virtual Computing Laboratory will be supported via an existing high-speed network in southwest and southern Virginia, thanks to the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, and through new fiber optic communication to be developed under the Allegheny Fiber project. The new fiber network extends communications technologies into the complicated terrain of ridges and valleys of rural Virginia.
As the computer science curriculum for kindergartners through eighth graders continues to evolve and a production-ready instantiation of the Apache Virtual Computing Laboratory is readied, Prof. Feng predicted the integrated project, combining K-8 computer science curriculum with virtual computing, will be widely deployed and supported for elementary schools by the summer of 2011.