Why Computer Science?
This week is National Computer Science Week, celebrated across the country with Hour of Code. As our world increasingly uses technology, understanding how it works, and how we can use it to solve problems, becomes increasingly more important.
The growth of jobs that depend on computer science knowledge is increasing- in fact the STEM job market is hot because of computer science.
Historically, the computing field has not been well represented by women and minorities, but we need diverse perspectives to address the challenges our world faces.
Piedmont Unified’s goal is to have equal representation in Computer Science classes at the secondary level by 2016-17. Right now about 37% of students are female while in most of the country’s computer science classes women only make up 15% of the students.
We have several strategies underway to increase the number of students who have strong computer science foundational knowledge, and to bring under-represented groups to the topic.
- provide foundational experiences to ALL students in 1st-6th grade, BEFORE girls traditionally disconnect from math and science.
- adopt new computer science standards that emphasize the creative, collaborative and problem-solving aspect of computing
- redesign the middle school program to provide engaging classes such as the Maker’s Lab, Art-botics, and Animation that provide opportunities to practice concepts of computing and computer science.
- redesign classes at the high school level so that every student will be exposed to core concepts and understandings in computer science, by taking a year long computer science course like Joy of Computing (developed by UC Berkeley) or an adaptation of the UCLA Exploring Computer Science semester long class.
What can you do?
- Try out the engaging options for Hour of Code at Code.org yourself or with students
- Bring attention to variety of jobs that depend on computing
- Highlight and model computational thinking skills, along with critical thinking in ANY subject:
- Logically organizing and analyzing data
- Representing data through abstractions such as graphs, models and simulations
- Automating solutions through algorithmic thinking (a series of ordered steps)
- Identifying, analyzing, and implementing possible solutions with the goal of achieving the most efficient and effective combination of steps and resources
- Formulating problems in a way that enables use of a computer and other tools to help solve them.