Putting ‘science’ back in computer science


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codeorg-logoThe Gadget Guy reviews the latest technology for the government and explores related trends and hot topics.

Of the many interesting speakers who appeared at FedTalks last week, one in particular struck a personal chord with me. Hadi Partovi is the founder and president of Code.org, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to grow computer science education, both in our schools and in the workplace.

While I was getting my degree in computer science, the personal computer went from something only die-hard techies owned, to being in every home and office, and the Internet came out of the laboratory to bring the world closer together. It seemed like a lot of people were majoring in computer science, but that might have been because that was the main group of people I saw on a daily basis.

Anyway, Mr. Partovi showed us some rather disturbing statistics. Even though computing jobs take up about 60 percent of all math and science occupations, only about 2 percent of all math/science students are computer students.

Most colleges and universities don’t consider computer science part of the STEM core of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Nine out of 10 schools don’t even offer computer programming courses. In 39 of 50 states, coding classes don’t count toward high school graduation math or science requirements. It is disturbing to say the least, especially when you consider that, if things continue the way they are, by 2020 there will be 1 million more computing jobs than the number of computer science students who can actually do them.

“What can I do about it?” I hear you say. Well, the first thing you should do is watch this video:

Mr. Partovi has gotten many influential people to speak out on the importance of computer science, ranging from computer moguls to political figures to sports stars. They all are saying how important computer science education is and will be for our future.

If you have never learned to code, there is no time like the present to learn, at least a little bit. The Code.org website has links to many popular online sites where you can learn to code. It is definitely worth your time, and can open up your mind to so many possibilities.

If you already know how to code, you can help out by donating some of your time to teach programming to interested students. Code.org can let you know about local learning centers or even help you start one of your own.

If you are a teacher or parent at a school where computer science education is lacking, let Code.org know about it. They will help you look into ways you can help to bring this important subject to your school. In the meantime, you should also make arrangements to show the video to students at your school.

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