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Chico State

Chico State Professor Designs Computer Science Program for High School Teachers—Bringing Gaming, AI, and Design to Classrooms

Professor Abbas Artawalla is seen from above, sitting at his desk in front of a laptop.
(Jason Halley / University Photographer)

Chico State computer science professor Abbas Attarwala has been awarded a Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (RSCA) grant, funded by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, to lead a project intended to significantly improve computer science education for high school teachers and students, especially those in underserved areas where access to technology and progressive learning modalities is limited.

Scheduled for summer 2025, Attarwala is designing a program to help high school teachers across the state build skills and confidence to teach leading-edge concepts using state-of-the-art technologies. In partnership with Chico State Professional & Continuing Education, teachers will be able to enroll in a 2-credit course that can be completed in 10 days and can be accessed and completed online.

Attarwala’s vision is to help educators teach and talk about computer science in a way that gets kids excited. This involves building games, apps, and stories, which invite students to invest their creativity and passion into lessons and get more engaged.

Technology and the availability of high-speed Internet continue to change how we work, communicate, and operate in society. For high school students, there’s a growing appetite to develop the skills needed for college and to explore careers centered on programming, AI, and coding—some of the most creative aspects of computer science. These fields are closely connected to gaming, application development, design, and more

“What we’ll be doing is learning Python, data structures, and algorithms, and then showing them how to integrate and leverage artificial intelligence and generative AI to make the curriculum more exciting to students,” said Attarwala. 

He noted similar programs in the past all suffered from a common drawback. “Teachers experience a lot of excitement early on when they attend a course like this, but it fades very quickly when they get back into the classroom because they don’t have support—and end up reverting to old ways of teaching.”

Attarwala’s program will involve a series of bi-weekly checkups with teachers to hear how they’re doing in the classroom and identify areas where support is needed. “I want to know what issues they’re running into and how we can provide immediate assistance,” he said. The element of ongoing support is built into the course, offering teachers a community of peers to connect and share their experiences with—and ultimately grow together.  

Tuition will be $150 for high school teachers, which will be covered for 10 participants through the RSCA grant. Teachers interested in signing up can put their names on this list to get updates and notifications about signing up.