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For Immediate Release
September 25, 2007

TCNJ receives NSF grant for pilot program in interactive journalism


EWING, NJ … The College of New Jersey is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $600,000, three-year competitive grant from the National Science Foundation.  The grant will support a pilot program intended to increase the participation of members of underrepresented groups in the computing sciences by exposing middle school-aged students to interactive journalism.

National Science Foundation LogoThe three co-Principal Investigators of the grant are Ursula Wolz, associate professor of computer science, Kim Pearson, associate professor of English, and Monisha Pulimood, assistant professor of computer science. Mary Switzer, gender equity specialist at TCNJ, will be program manager.

With evidence mounting that the duties of 21st century journalists and computing professionals will begin to overlap, this project will not only educate students of these responsibilities, but attract them into the computing pipeline and give them the opportunity to explore possible career choices otherwise unknown to them.

In this project, a cohort of rising 8th graders from Fisher Middle School in Ewing will participate in a weeklong summer Interactive Journalism Institute at TCNJ in 2008 and 2009.  During the institute, teachers from Fisher will partner with TCNJ undergraduates as mentors. They will receive training prior to the Fisher students. TCNJ students with backgrounds in computer science, journalism and media will help design the program and supporting technology through a summer research opportunity. These students will lead TCNJ volunteers to support the Fisher teachers extend the project as an afterschool program during the following school year.

The summer Institute curriculum will impart basic computer science, reporting and writing skills. This session will focus particularly on database design and access. It will exploit the potential of a new programming language Scratch that supports young people as they create their own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art on the Web (  The 8th grade students will learn and practice basic reporting and programming skills, and produce a small prototype news publication. 

Summer learning will be reinforced and cultivated during the school year through workshops and enrichment activities, mentored by their own teachers with volunteer students from TCNJ’s civic engagement program. The Fisher Middle School students will continue to produce the news publication as well as receive visits from professionals working in the field.

For more information, please contact the Office of Public Affairs at 609.771.3066.