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Twin Cities PBS Receives National Science Foundation (NSF) Award For "SciGirls" Code

November 30, 2015

NSF supports computer science education program of popular PBS series

Saint Paul, Minn. (November 30, 2015) The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Twin Cities PBS’s (TPT) National Productions Department a $1.2 million grant for a two-year media, educational outreach and research project, SciGirls Code: A National Connected Learning Model to Integrate Computing in STEM Learning with Middle School Girls.

SciGirls Code will use principles of connected learning, a learner-focused approach that harnesses the advances and innovations of our connected age to serve learning, with 16-committed STEM (science, technology engineering & math) outreach partners to provide 160 girls and their 32 leaders with computational thinking and coding skills. The pilot program will develop and implement a nine-month curriculum centering on three tracks—e-textiles, robotics, and mobile geospatial technologies; role model training for female technology professionals; professional development for STEM educators; and a research component that investigates the ways in which computational learning experiences impact the development of computational thinking as well as interest and attitudes toward computer science.

“Even though girls and boys sit side by side in educational settings all across the country, young women are less likely to choose careers in computing than their male peers,” said Joan Freese, Interactive and Educational Content Producer at TPT. “Educators are working to bring computer science to classrooms and after school programs across the country. ‘SciGirls’ is excited to be part of this important movement.”

This new project is based on “SciGirls,” TPT’s Emmy® award-winning television program and outreach program that draws on cutting-edge research about what engages girls in STEM learning and careers. The PBS television show, kids’ website, community outreach and professional development programming have reached over 25 million girls, educators, and families, making it the most widely accessed girls’ STEM program available nationally. “SciGirls”resources address a singular but powerful goal: to inspire, enable, and maximize STEM learning and participation for all girls, with an eye toward future STEM careers.

SciGirls Code is under the direction of PI Joan Freese and Co-PI Rita Karl from TPT and Co-PI Karen Peterson from the National Girls Collaborative. Co-PI Cassandra Scharber, PhD, Associate Director of Research and Community Engagement at the Learning Technologies Media Lab at the University of Minnesota, and Associate Professor, Learning Technologies, will lead the research effort.

The NSF’s STEM+C Partnerships program seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and computing by K-12 students and teachers, through research on, and development of, courses, curriculum, course materials, pedagogies, instructional strategies, or models that innovatively integrate computing into one or more STEM disciplines, or integrate STEM content into the teaching and learning of computing.


About TPT
The mission of TPT is to “enrich lives and strengthen our community through the power of media.”

As one of the nation’s leading public media organizations, Twin Cities PBS (TPT) uses television, interactive media and community engagement to advance education, culture and citizenship. Over its nearly 60-year history, TPT has been recognized for its innovation and creativity with numerous awards, including Peabody awards and national and regional Emmys.

Based in St. Paul, MN, TPT is the most highly viewed public TV station in the nation, reaching over 1.7 million people each month through multiple broadcast and online channels. The organization’s particular areas of focus include: the educational readiness of children; serving the needs and unleashing the potential of America’s aging population; engaging a new generation in the power of public media; and being the preferred media partner for organizations that align with our mission to enrich lives and strengthen community.

For more information about TPT, visit our website at or join us on Facebook and Twitter.


The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports education and research across all fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  In addition to providing major support for SciGirls, the NSF supports other science and math programs on PBS and, including DragonflyTVPeg + CatDesign Squad Nation and Plum Landing.  Visit here for more information on NSF activities.

Elle Lyons, TPT Communications Manager
[email protected] | 651-229-1491

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2015. All rights reserved.


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