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IQT’s “Journal Club:” Integrating Quantum Tech into K-12 Schools

A new paper in IEEE discusses the many different intersections used for monetizing quantum computing, from finance to the automotive industry.
By Kenna Hughes-Castleberry posted 29 Mar 2024

IQT’s “Journal Club” is a weekly article series that breaks down a recent quantum technology research paper and discusses its impacts on the quantum ecosystem. In this article, we discuss a paper published in Education Sciences by researchers at George Mason University that examines how to help teachers efficiently educate K-12 students on quantum technologies. 

As quantum technology becomes more pervasive, educating the next workforce is imperative. While many colleges have launched their quantum computing degrees or learning paths, starting at a younger age may be even more impactful.

Recognizing the pivotal role educators play in preparing students for a future deeply intertwined with quantum technologies, researchers at George Mason University examined the professional development experiences of K-12 teachers regarding quantum pedagogy.

A Dive Into K-12 Quantum Education

Utilizing a qualitative research approach, the study involved 49 teachers who participated in workshops focused on quantum concepts. Data were collected through surveys, field notes, workshop artifacts, and interviews to capture teachers’ perceptions and how they linked quantum topics to their teaching curricula.

The findings revealed a high level of enthusiasm among teachers for integrating quantum science into their classrooms despite acknowledging potential barriers such as curriculum alignment and the complexity of the concepts. This enthusiasm spanned educators from both elementary and secondary levels, indicating a widespread acknowledgment of the significance of quantum education in preparing students for future careers.

Teachers identified connections between quantum science and various subjects, particularly math and science, although connections to computing were less common.

A Future of Quantum Teaching?

The study highlighted several implications for the future of quantum education at K-12 grade levels. First, it pointed out the necessity of incorporating quantum science into the K-12 curriculum to equip students with the knowledge and skills required in a future dominated by quantum technologies. It also emphasized the role of professional development in empowering teachers to overcome the perceived complexities of quantum concepts and integrate them into their teaching.

Moreover, the research sheds light on the potential of quantum education to advance equity in STEM, as it presents a new domain where all students can start on an equal footing. It identified systemic barriers to STEM education, including time constraints and curriculum alignment, that need to be addressed to facilitate the integration of quantum topics into K-12 education.

The study’s findings suggest that teachers can make meaningful connections between quantum concepts and the existing curriculum with adequate support and resources, paving the way for a comprehensive understanding of quantum science among K-12 students. This prepares students for future quantum-related careers and fosters a more equitable and inclusive STEM education landscape.

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is the Managing Editor at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, quantum computing, and AI. Her work has been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, Discover Magazine, New Scientist, Ars Technica, and more.

Categories: Education, quantum computing, research

Tags: K-12 education, Quantum education, workforce

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Ulf Öhlander, Program Manager for Transformative technologies at Vinnova is an IQT Nordics Conference Speaker in June 2024.IQT News — Quantum News Briefs