Lowe’s gift will allow ASMSA to create a computer science seminar focusing on bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and collective computing, the first high school course focused entirely on the topics in Arkansas and the United States. Like many of ASMSA’s hallmark courses, the class will feature an interdisciplinary approach to the topic. A combination of mathematics, computer science, humanities and economics faculty will collaborate on the course development and delivery. The gift will also support other elements of the school’s computer science, digital learning and outreach programs.
Bitcoin launched in 2009 and is managed through a peer-to-peer technology network that doesn’t have a central owner. Bitcoins may be bought or sold in U.S. dollars or in other currencies from private exchanges based around the world. Individuals may also exchange bitcoins using encrypted digital wallets that offer each individual a unique digital identification.
Each bitcoin transaction is recorded on a public database called a block chain. Every block in the chain contains a list of transactions and a link to the previous block. The block chain has a record of every transaction since the creation of bitcoin. Recorded transactions only include each person’s digital wallet identification, the set of encrypted letters and numbers that allows each person to maintain their anonymity.
In order to accept Lowe’s gift, the ASMSA Foundation Fund with assistance from the university foundation established a digital wallet account with BitPay, a bitcoin exchange that allowed the university to accept a payment from Lowe in bitcoin. The digital wallet also allowed the foundation to exchange the bitcoins for cash to be deposited into the foundation’s account.