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Teaching the next generation of quantum scientists

Harvard, White House and NSF collaborate to develop critical resources for quantum education

The Harvard University Center for Integrated Quantum Materials (CIQM), in partnership with The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), hosted a virtual workshop in March to discuss curriculum and educator activities that will help K-12 students engage with quantum information science.

The workshop resulted in a list of key concepts for future quantum information science (QIS) learners. The document provides a concise list of nine basic concepts, including quantum entanglement, communication, and sensing.  The list is first step towards the development of quantum education curricula and empowering educators to teach quantum concepts in K-12 classrooms.

“Quantum information science and technology aims to create systems for quantum sensing, quantum communication using interconnected networks, and quantum computation,” said Robert M. Westervelt, the Mallinckrodt Professor of Applied Physics and of Physics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Director of CIQM. “Our most important role is to engage young students in the field, because they will develop quantum technology in the future.”

The document was the product of over three weeks of intensive deliberations among a group of university and industry researchers, secondary school and college educators, and representatives from educational and professional organizations. The participants represented a set of convergent disciplines that contribute to QIS today: physics, computer sciences, materials sciences, engineering, chemistry, and mathematics. Document development efforts were led by experts from the Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center (IQUIST), the University of Chicago, Georgetown University and the Museum of Science, Boston.

"American leadership in quantum information science depends on a strong quantum workforce,” said Jake Taylor, a Harvard alumnus who serves as OSTP’s Assistant Director for Quantum Information Science. “We're thrilled to begin this important work helping prepare the next generation of quantum learners."

"The future of fundamental research and education is in our hands. This impactful effort will empower the broad society to be included, and to actively participate in both efforts and benefits of the quantum era,” said Sean Jones, Acting Assistant Director at the NSF's Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Topics: Quantum Engineering

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Leah Burrows | 617-496-1351 | lburrows@seas.harvard.edu