Professors Launch CS Theory Events Website
CSE Prof. Shachar Lovett and CSE visiting assistant professor Alexander (Sasha) Kulikov, a senior research fellow in the Laboratory of Mathematical Logic of St. Petersburg (a department of the Steklov Institute of Mathematics), have launched a new website for the computer-science theory community. Called CS Theory Events, the site invites members of the broader community to advertise and learn about relevant workshops, conferences and other events with a focus on algorithms and complexity.
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Microsoft Announces the Release of Minecraft: Education Edition Beta
Microsoft has announced beta testing of Minecraft: Education Edition, which is the company’s education-focused suite for Minecraft that integrates tools for teachers and students to help them use the game more effectively in the classroom. The education-centered offshoot of was first revealed in January of this year. This May, a closed beta of the game will involve more than 100 schools in 30 countries, reports Pradeep of MS Power User. By June, any school will be able to access the Education Edition for free as long as teachers have a fully updated operating system and an Office 365 Education account. Eventually, Microsoft plans to charge $5 per user each year.
The U.S. Department of Education Issued Guidance on Funding STEM Education Opportunities
The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance around leveraging federal funds for STEM education in an attempt to close the equity and opportunity gaps that persist for historically underserved students. A letter directed to states, school districts and schools offers examples of how federal funds can serve to support the development, implementation and expansion of STEM education and learning experiences to improve student achievement. The recommendations focus on improving student access to STEM learning experiences, as well as supporting educators in STEM disciplines. The letter also targets computer science education and mentions in a footnote that all references to STEM include computer science.
Research Released by the Univeristy of Syndney found that Finger Tracing can Increase Student Performance in Math
Schoolkids who used finger tracing fared better with previously unseen geometry and algebra questions, new research has found. Studies involving 275 Sydney school children aged between nine and 13 found that tracing over elements of maths problems enhanced how they understood and solved problems in geometry and algebra. Tests revealed students who used their finger to trace over practice examples while simultaneously reading geometry or arithmetic material were able to complete tasks more quickly and correctly than those who did not use the same technique.”Our findings have a range of implications for teachers and students alike. They show maths learning by young students may be enhanced substantially with the simple addition of instructions to finger-trace elements of maths problems,” said Dr Paul Ginns, Senior Lecturer in Educational Psychology and the research’s corresponding author.
Seventh-Graders Learn Astrophysics through Mixed-Reality Computer Simulation
MEteor, an interactive computer simulation, teaches middle school students about gravity and planetary motion in an immersive, whole-body environment. From left, doctoral student Shuai Wang and Robb Lindgren, a professor of curriculum and instruction and of educational psychology, found in a recent study that the astronomy game’s whole-body learning activities were linked with significant learning gains, greater student engagement and more positive attitudes toward science.
Scientists Store Digital Images in DNA, and Retrieves them Perfectly
Technology companies routinely build sprawling data centers to store all the baby pictures, financial transactions, funny cat videos and email messages its users hoard. But a new technique developed by University of Washington and Microsoft researchers could shrink the space needed to store digital data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter down to the size of a sugar cube.
New Facebook Tool Lets Blind People ‘See’ Photos
“With more than 39 million people who are blind, and over 246 million who have a severe visual impairment, many people may feel excluded from the conversation around photos on Facebook,” Facebook’s Shaomei Wu, Hermes Pique, and Jeffrey Wieland, said in an online post, late Monday. In an attempt to remedy this problem, Facebook is launching “automatic alternative text”; a tool that uses object recognition technology to identify and describe an image, so that visually impaired and blind people using screen readers will be able to hear—and therefore visualize—what’s in a photo posted on the social network.
These Are the Cities Where Tech Workers Live Largest
Annual data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrates the value of an education in the science, technology, engineering, or math fields. Workers employed in computer and math occupations in the cities with the most technology employees earned yearly salaries about 50 percent to 75 percent higher than the overall workforce. Seattle tech workers, for example, had a mean salary of $108,350, or 78 percent more than the $61,000 earned by all workers there. That was the highest tech-worker premium in the 10 largest hubs, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin. The same is true in the burgeoning tech hub of Oakland, CA, where workers in computer and math occupations were paid 70 percent more. Computer and math occupations in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Jose, and San Francisco all earn more than 60 percent more than their non-tech counterparts.
How Do I Ask Someone to Mentor Me?
If you’ve ever wanted a mentor or are thinking about speaking to someone about a mentorship, watch this video to learn how:
Learn About Engineering and Aerodynamics By Building Your Own Skateboard Through the Use of a Computer
Join us for our first-ever hands-on building workshop that incorporates the use of a computer and tools to create a functional work of art that you will cherish for years to come. This class is only open to older students, such as rising 10th graders through twelfth grade. All materials will be provided. Class size will be smaller to allow for individual attention. The registration fee is higher than our other courses due to the cost of materials. If you find the cost prohibitive, please contact Ange Mason via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss other payment options. This class will be a blast so don’t miss it!
Want to Know What is Going on at SDSC this Summer?
From Java and Robotics to Skateboard Creation and everything in between, we have something for everyone! Students in grades 6-12 can spend a full-filled week at SDSC learning, creating and interacting with new peers and UCSD undergraduate interns. Many of our previous summer camp attendees have come back year after year to our camps, eventually becoming a Summer Camp Assistant and then being admitted to UCSD. By learning new skills this summer, you will be on the path to becoming anything you want to be!
Women Who Changed the World (video)
Literary mastery, pioneering science, life-saving discoveries and actions for peace and human rights – achievements of women around the world awarded the Nobel Prize. Learn more about the impactful work of these Laureates by visiting the Nobel Prize website at http://www.nobelprize.org/. View the video:
Clubs Shift Girls’ Perception of Computer Science
Eighth-grader Quincy Houghton said she knows exactly what she wants to study in college: English and computer science. Quincy’s goal is to translate her learning into writing storylines for video games that she expects to create someday. Quincy is among the 30 girls participating in the Girls Who Code club that started in January at Fischer Middle School in Aurora. Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering fields by helping girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields. Besides clubs that teach girls to code and introduce girls to computer professionals, the organization hosts a summer immersion program in which students learn computer science fundamentals and meet with women mentors working in technology.
UC Davis C-STEM Training Options Announced
The UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM Center) is providing teachers with breakthrough tools for teaching math, coding and robotics. The C-STEM Center has been granted UC A-G Program Status. This means that schools can easily add C-STEM A-G approved courses to their own school’s “A-G” course lists without submitting a complete course content description and going through the traditional approval process with UCOP. The new C-STEM Studio is a platform for teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics through computing and robotics for integrated learning. As a UC-approved Educational Preparation Program with UC A-G program status, the C-STEM Center is in a very unique position to influence the future direction of K-14 computing and STEM education and will have significant impact on the talent pipeline development for the state and nation. To view the training schedule, please visit http://c-stem.ucdavis.edu/teachers-administrators/professional-development/.
Project Lead the Way Announces New Flexibility to Promote Equity
Beginning in school year 2016-17 schools have flexibility to offer custom programs and may start up a PLTW program by implementing only one PLTW module with one PLTW trained teacher. This will allow the school to build a sequence of courses incrementally on their own timeline and in ways that best meets the needs of the school. PLTW will continue to recommend thoughtfully sequenced programs of study to ensure students are ready for college and careers. While historically an engineering and biomedical science program, PLTW is now moving into computer science. PLTW is developing courses that form a comprehensive computer science pathway and is continuing to increase its offerings in this field. The PLTW program now includes high school and middle school programs and PLTW is beginning to offer elementary curriculum and programs.
Perspective: The Path to a STEM Job Starts in Elementary School
When you think of STEM, it’s likely you think of science, technology, engineering, and math, all rolled into one. At Kankakee Schools in Illinois, our STEM program aims to do a lot more than teach four topics: We want our students to apply what they learn in real-life settings.
According to projections by STEMconnector.org, by 2018, the U.S. will need 8.65 million workers in STEM-related jobs. As a district, we have to ensure that our graduates are prepared for life after formal education and ready for the jobs of the future. From the moment students walk through the door of Kankakee school to the time they walk across the stage to receive their high school diplomas, they are constantly transitioning to their next stage of life. As educators, we have to prepare them for any challenge that will be thrown their way.
Microsoft Teams With Rhode Island to Bring Computer Science to Every High School in the State
A unique partnership between Microsoft and Rhode Island aims to bring computer science classes to every high school in the state by the end of next year — a new step in an effort to put computer science in the same league as math and science in schools across the country The partnership was announced this morning by Microsoft and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, along with the University of Rhode Island, Brown University and the Rhode Island teachers’ union. It will leverage an existing program, sponsored by Microsoft, called Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS), which pairs tech professionals from a variety of companies with teachers in classrooms.
New PBS KIDS ScratchJr App Launches
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has released an app designed to help kids between the ages of five and eight learn the basic concepts behind coding. The PBS KIDS ScratchJr app, based on the ScratchJr programming language co-developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab and Tufts University, tasks kids with using colorful programming blocks to create their own stories and games using more than 150 PBS KIDS characters. Kits can snap the programming blocks together to make characters jump, move, dance, and sing. The app is now available for free on the iOS App Store and the Android Google Play store. The app was developed as part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS Ready to Learn Initiative, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and aims to promote computer science education for children. The app will be promoted in underserved communities in the U.S. through programs and partnerships with Title I schools supported by PBS member stations, the Verizon Foundation, and the Ready to Learn Initiative. The promotional efforts will include after-school activities, a summer camp, and teacher-training pilot programs.
Teach Your Kids to Code: 6 Beginner’s Resources for Parents
Introducing computer programming to your kids can be a challenge, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the nuances of code. Fortunately, in the last few years, a number of apps, software, and guides have been produced that make the often-complex subject of computer coding easy to grasp for young learners. So where to begin? These are a few resources that parents can share with their kids to help them start learning about programming.
view the list of resources
SDSC, Sweetwater Schools Catch Eye of NSF, White House
Computer Courses Garner Invitation to Prestigious National Science Summit
Five years ago, there were no computer science classes offered by schools within San Diego’s Sweetwater Union High School District, and Arthur Lopez, a teacher at Sweetwater High School in National City, decided to do something about it. Through a joint effort between the school district, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), and UC San Diego CREATE (Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence), the school today has a number of courses on computer science principles, several of which are Advanced Placement classes that encourage students to continue their education.
Perspective: Do We Still Need Computer Science Teachers?
These days it seems like “how to learn coding yourself” opportunities are everywhere. There are MOOCs from major universities, code.org (http://code.org) has great online tutorials, Facebook just opened a web site called TechPrep (https://techprep.fb.com/) to help parents and students alike find resources and tools, and there seems to be a new edtech company starting up every week with online CS resources. The question for many becomes “do we still need computer science teachers?” For those of us who make our living teaching computer science the fact that this question is even being asked is a little scary. OK maybe more than a little. I think most of us believe that there is still a crucial role for computer science teachers though. CSTA is at its heart about Teachers for good reason.
Code School Study Shows How to Spot a Future Programmer
A recent Code School survey offers information on traits in youth that may indicate a future in computer science. Most programmers find their interest in computer science before age 16 and carry this passion into their professional life, according to a recent survey. A Code School survey of 2,200 coders and developers reveals some specific traits and tendencies that may predict that a youth has a future career in computer science. The survey polled current coders and software developers and asked them to recount personal traits, tendencies and preferences from their younger years.
First Indian Student Supercomputing Challenge Coming This June
Next June, the inaugural distributed and embedded-High Performance Computing (de-HPC) symposium will host the first Indian Student Supercomputing Challenge (ISSC) to introduce the next generation of students to the HPC community and its technology. As part of the competition, eight to 10 student teams will build a small cluster computer of their own design and will use it to run a series of HPC benchmarks and applications. The teams also will be required to present their findings to a panel of judges to show how fundamentally they understand the applications and results. “I believe ISSC opens up an interesting and innovative platform for the HPC student fraternity in India to experience computer science and computational science,” says Indian Institute of Technology Bombay research fellow Umesh Gupta.
New Education Bill to Get More Coding in Classrooms
The Wall Street Journal
The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, recognizes computer science (CS) as important an academic subject as math and English, potentially introducing it into more classrooms across the country. The new law includes CS in the definition of well-rounded education subjects, putting it on the same level as other subjects when state and local policy makers decide how to distribute federal funds. “This week marks a watershed moment for computer science in U.S. schools,” says Code.org founder Hadi Partovi. “In just two years, this field has been adopted by all the largest cities, almost 100 school districts. It’s great to see the federal government finally recognize this field as a foundational academic subject.” Computer science is specifically mentioned in the bill with language relating to curriculum and support around professional development.
Growth in Computer Science Driven by Student Interest, Societal Need
In response to growing enrollment and increasing interest in computer science from other disciplines, Princeton University is expanding its computer science faculty by more than 30 percent. The expansion will add 10 tenure-track positions to the current 28, making the computer science department one of the three largest concentrations at Princeton. The department plans to bring in the new faculty members as soon as possible, and the university will support the expansion with funds in the long term. “Computer science brims with intellectual excitement, offering new insights into age-old questions and novel ways to solve major societal challenges,” says Princeton president Christopher L. Eisgruber. Computer scientists at Princeton regularly connect with a range of collaborators across campus, and enrollments in computer science have tripled since the department was launched in 1985. In addition, among students on track to graduate in 2017, 35 percent of Princeton computer science majors are women, nearly twice the national average of 18 percent.
Quasars Are Disappearing and Astronomers Aren’t Sure Why
In astronomy, there is a term called the “active galactic nucleus,” which refers to the fact that some of the black holes that are strongly theorized to lie at the center of all galaxies are sending out a whole lot of radiation of different types. In general they’re the most powerful sources of radiation we know of, and the quasar is specifically the most energetic type. Thought to be the energy emissions caused when a large amount of material falls into the accretion disc of a supermassive black hole, quasars are among the most useful objects for astronomers. They’re use as a sort of universal positioning system, since their position is so visible, and their position so reliable — but new evidence shows that a surprising number are starting to wink out of view. It’s believed that quasars are generally formed when two galaxies collide, which means that as the universe expands and things get further and further apart, the frequency of galactic collisions goes down. This is thought to be one reason why all known quasars are so far away — they were formed near the beginning of the universe, back when everything was much closer together and galaxies were much more prone to run into one another. That being the case, all known quasars are so far away that they functionally don’t move from our perspective, and they can be used as reference points for locating things in the vastness of space.
Will Hacking Nature Protect Us From Climate Change?
To avoid a global warming catastrophe by the end of the century, humans may need to actually hack the climate. Whether you call it hacking, or “fiddling with the knobs in the climate system,” or the less-imaginative “geoengineering,” it revolves around this question: Can humans game the system by using science to reverse global warming? One way to keep global average temperatures from warming beyond a catastrophic 2-degree-celsius tipping point, according to some experts, is to suck massive amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere. How would you do that? Well, yeah. Scientists say it’s theoretically possible to extract CO2 from the air and turn it into materials for buildings and clothes and other everyday stuff. But wait, it’s not quite time to put on our party hats and celebrate. There are a couple of problems that have to be solved first: he process would be very expensive and sucking all this CO2 out of the air creates a logistical problem – where will we put it? Assuming that problem will be figured out eventually, Lackner and other ASU scientists are developing a machine that can pull CO2 out of thin air.
Instagram is Testing Support for Multiple Accounts on Android
Instagram may finally be adding support for multiple accounts. The photo sharing app is testing support for multiple accounts for Android users. The feature appears to be limited to some Android users who are part of Instagram’s beta testing program, at least for now. First spotted by Twitter users @fro_rogue — who reports the test has been live for some time — the feature allows users to add multiple accounts from the app’s main settings menu. Once added, you can browse and post from different feeds within the app. It’s not clear if Instagram plans to expand the feature beyond its current tests or make it available to iPhone users. Both Facebook and Instagram are both known to preview new features to Android users first, before deciding whether or not to make them available more broadly. Android Police reports that the feature appears for some, but not all, users who have opted in to Instagram’s official beta testing program. It’s not clear if Instagram plans to expand the feature beyond its current tests or make it available to iPhone users. Both Facebook and Instagram are both known to preview new features to Android users first, before deciding whether or not to make them available more broadly. Android Police reports that the feature appears for some, but not all, users who have opted in to Instagram’s official beta testing program.
Stanford President Has 4 Ideas for Boosting Women in Tech
Stanford University president John Hennessy’s speech at Intel Capital’s recent annual summit focused on four barriers he says are preventing gender equality in the technology industry and his proposed solutions for each. Hennessy says, “Our system is broken somewhere between middle school and high school,” noting that in elementary school girls do slightly better than boys in math and science, but they fall behind in early adolescence. Hennessy recommends finding better role models and inspiration for girls. Hennessy also criticizes the rise of the “gamification culture,” which he says puts a heavy emphasis on killing. Although boys may like these types of games, he says most girls do not find them attractive. However, he notes the problem may be fixing itself as today’s computers now provide a gateway to social media, which has high levels of engagement by girls. Hennessy’s third concern is the “isolation effect” at universities, especially for female students who may end up being the only woman in a high-level math or science course of 30 people.
An Hour of Code, featuring Anna and Elsa from Frozen!
Let’s use code to join Anna and Elsa as they explore the magic and beauty of ice. You will create snowflakes and patterns as you ice-skate and make a winter wonderland that you can then share with your friends! This tutorial is in beta. It is subject to revision as feedback is received and improvements are made.
try it here
Movement Improves Girls’ Computational Skills
Clemson University researchers have developed Virtual Environment Interactions (VEnvI), a software and curriculum combination for blending movement and programming. The researchers say VEnvI offers a novel and embodied strategy of engaging fifth- and sixth-grade girls in computational thinking. “We want to understand how body syntonicity might enable young learners to bootstrap their intuitive knowledge in order to program a three-dimensional character to perform movements,” says Clemson professor Alison Leonard. The researchers conducted user-centered design research for creating choreography and the social context for a virtual character through which girls can be introduced to alternative applications in computing. “We adopt the view that computational thinking is a set of concepts, practices, and perspectives that draw upon the world of computing and are applicable in many [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] fields,” says Clemson professor Shaundra Daily.
Computer Game Could Help Visually-Impaired Children Live Independently
University of Lincoln
University of Lincoln researchers are developing Eyelander; a computer game they say could help visually impaired children lead independent lives. The game focuses on improving the functional vision of children who have sight issues due to a brain injury rather than damage to the eye itself. “We are tapping into the brain’s innate ability to adapt (also known as neuroplasticity), and because substantial changes in vision are possible even into adulthood, this could yield real results,” says Lincoln computational neuroscientist Jonathan Waddington. He says the game combines scientific knowledge of neuroscience and psychology with expertise in game development. “Clinical trials will get under way this summer to evaluate whether the software could become a valuable new tool for the treatment of children and young adults with visual impairments,” Waddington says.
Anne Condon: Computer Scientist. Passionate Academic. Triathlete.
Women were far more well represented in computer science when Anne Condon first decided in high school the subject sounded interesting, despite never having used a computer. Decades of theoretical computer science work later, Condon, who now serves as head of the computer science department at the University of British Columbia, is dedicated to helping young women find their way in the field. Condon joined the Computing Research Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in 1994 and for three years before her term ended in 2007, she headed a project to encourage undergraduate women to pursue computer science by matching them with research mentors. “Ever since then I’ve been eager to find ways to convince women to pursue research careers,” said Condon. She is continually researching ways to make computer science curricula more accessible and attractive to female students.
Khan Academy Offers Advice on How to Get into College
Khan Academy has created resources to help students and parents navigate this challenging process of college admissions. These resources include video interviews and conversations with successful students from all walks of life and admissions officers and counselors at some of the nation’s top schools. Online resources can never be as good as a great mentor. However, we hope that we can help students get a solid start and to provide teachers, parents and counselors with a useful tool to help the students in their lives.
Physics Girl Explains Why the Earth is Flat
Published on Nov 11, 2014
Cosmic inflation is a theory that was proposed in the 1980s by cosmologist Alan Guth to answer some of the most fundamental questions of the origins of our universe. It also solved the Horizon Problem and the Flatness Problem. View the video:
Programming Computers in Everyday Language
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Computers speak a language of their own. They can only be programmed by those, who know the code. Computer scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are presently working on a software that directly translates natural language into machine-readable source texts. In this way, users may generate own computer applications in a few sentences. The challenge to be managed is that people do not always describe processes in a strictly chronological order. A new analysis tool developed by KIT researchers serves to automatically order the commands in the way they are to be executed by the computer. “We want to get away from complicated rules for users — this is what programming languages are — towards smart computers that enter into a dialog with us,” says Mathias Landhäußer, scientist of KIT’s Institute for Program Structures and Data Organization (ITP). So far, programs can only be controlled by language, if they are designed accordingly by the manufacturer. An example is the sending of short messages via a smartphone. The KIT computer scientists are presently working on a software that installs a language interface for any type of programs. Users are enabled not only to open, but also to operate their apps by spoken commands. The scientists have already successfully incorporated such an interface in an application controlling the heating system, illumination, and windows of smart houses.
STEM and HPC Innovators Launch Community Effort to Foster Entrepreneurship
At the annual Supercomputing ’14 conference being held here this week, the first community effort focused on STEM and HPC Entrepreneurship is to be launched at a conference that brings together prospective entrepreneurs with some of the industry’s most celebrated experts and practitioners. Dubbed StartupHPC, the community aims to foster entrepreneurship by providing its growing membership with advice through community discussion boards and educational services, access to world-class expertise via conferences, meet-ups, and advisory board services, and support infrastructure through member organizations. StartupHPC’s inaugural conference features an all-star roster of speakers and panelists that includes CEOs, CTOs, Founders, senior executives, serial entrepreneurs, attorneys, marketers, journalists, and industry analysts. Sharing first hand experiences and advice will illuminate the requirements for, and the practical paths towards, the successful creation and growth of startups. Agenda, registration and membership information is available at the StartupHPC community portal, which can be found at http://www.startuphpc.com/.
Massachusetts Schools Strive to Increase Access to Coding Courses
The Boston Globe
Several efforts are underway to promote computer science (CS) education in Massachusetts. For example, state education officials and innovation school practitioners teamed up in 2012 to launch the Innovation School Network, a group of 28 approved Innovation Schools, as well as an additional 27 schools in the planning stages. In addition, the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) advocates for greater access to technology education across the state. The Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards Task Force is working to develop new standards for teaching computer science. “Our goal is to produce more software engineers; really create free thinkers not just add new classes,” says Sprout & Co. director and Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards Task Force member Alec Resnick.
‘Wearable Technology’ Curriculum Aims to Fuel Interest in STEM
Researchers at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) are developing a curriculum that will enable all students to learn the science behind “wearable technology.” The three-year project, backed by a U.S. National Science Foundation grant, will include inquiry-based activities to about 900 students in grades 4-6 who attend public school in Nebraska. Participating students will receive kits featuring conductive thread, light-emitting diode (LED) lights, sensors, and other components commonly found in high-tech clothing. The students also will work with microcontrollers, including tiny circuit boards that can be programmed to direct the various devices. “It’s hard to name an industry that isn’t impacted by technology today and so the earlier that we can introduce students to the different ways technology is used today, the more options they will have available to them when they go to college,” says UNO researcher Neal Grandgenett.
Twitter Grants Select Researchers Access to its Public Database
The Washington Post
In February, Twitter announced a data grant program offering a handful of research teams free access to its database. The academic researchers making the requests want to study almost a decade of historical data, according to Twitter’s Chris Moody. He notes researchers want to develop models to predict the success of political campaigns, the spread of public health crises, and other phenomena. “They call it ‘back-testing’–they needed to back-test their hypotheses,” Moody says. A team of researchers from Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital was chosen as one of six research projects for the data grant pilot program. The project combines food-poisoning reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with content from Internet users to better understand the spread of food-borne illnesses.
Computer Engineering Degrees Pay Off Big Time
Students who graduate with engineering degrees in a variety of fields are rewarded with high-paying jobs and have strong earnings potential throughout their career, according to a Brookings Institution report. Computer engineering currently ranks as the fourth-highest earning degree, with majors earning an average of $2.02 million throughout their career, while the top 10 percent of computer engineering majors earn more than $3.55 million. The report provides detailed data related to how much money graduates make just out of college, throughout different points of their career, and over their lifetime. “Engineering has reliably been a high-paying major dating back as far as the 1960s and 70s,” notes Brookings researcher Brad Hershbein. The data showing that computer engineering and computer science is a lucrative major comes as colleges and universities around the country are noting increased interest in computing majors.
Two Teenage Girls Have Invented the Most Powerful Video Game of the Year
The game, Tampon Run, is proving to be so successful, its creators spent last Saturday and Sunday coding a mobile version of the game. That’s right: An app called Tampon Run is coming to your iPhone. The game takes a whole different approach to first-person shooters. The main character runs down the street firing tampons at her enemies, leaping over their heads to collect more when she runs out. The goal isn’t to build an arsenal and go all Rambo, however; it’s to challenge the idea that in society, we’re more comfortable with guns and violence than we are with teaching girls to be comfortable with their bodies.
High-Tech Pay Gap: Minorities Earn Less in Skilled Jobs
Hispanics, Asians, and blacks are not receiving equal pay for equal work in the high-tech industry, according to a recent American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) report. “What this tells us is that race and ethnicity matter, and they matter a lot,” says AIER’s Nicole Kreisberg. “Simply increasing diversity is not enough. We also have to talk about money.” The study examined several factors, including education, occupation, age, geography, gender, citizenship status, marital status, and children in the home. Recent figures from some of the largest technology companies show blacks, Hispanics, and women are underrepresented in Silicon Valley. Analysts say this trend can be attributed to an unconscious bias. However, Silicon Valley companies are studying the issues. “We are regularly looking at our diversity metrics so that we can understand the current situation, target problem areas to address, and have a baseline to track the results of change,” says Twitter’s Janet Van Huysse.
Los Angeles Unified School District Announces Sweeping Expansion of Computer Science Course Work
The Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Code.org are collaborating to launch a sweeping expansion of computer science coursework, according to officials. The three-year effort involves training LAUSD teachers to help students at all grade levels learn about how computers work, enabling them to eventually teach advanced computer coding at the high school level. “It’s important to know what’s behind the applications and how they’re developed,” says LAUSD’s Todd Ullah. Code.org is training a cohort of Los Angeles educators to pass skills onto their colleagues. Some of the training and part of the curriculum is online, while Code.org also is contributing course materials. “Teaching students how to code enhances their relevant skills, no matter what academic or career path they eventually choose,” says LAUSD superintendent John Deasy.
Two Engineers Have Created the Doll Every Young Girl Should Be Playing With (video)
Take one walk down a toy store aisle in the U.S. and you’ll notice one striking trend: America’s glaring double standard surrounding the toys we make for kids and the gender roles they teach. But a couple of recent college grads are on a mission to change that. Their toy company, Miss Possible, sends a powerful message to young girls: Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are ready for more female pioneers. It’s the brainchild of Supriya Hobbs and Janna Eaves, two former engineering students at the University of Illinois. They launched Miss Possible on Indiegogo in July and surpassed their $75,000 fundraising goal. The first line of dolls, available in 2015, will feature two-time Nobel Prize winning chemist Marie Curie, high-flying aviator Bessie Coleman and the world’s first computer programmer Ada Lovelace — pioneering women who are great role models for kids. “I had my fair share of Barbies,” Supriya, the daughter of two chemists, told Mic in an interview. “But I also had Legos and all sorts of things. I’m not saying do away with ‘girly’ stuff, but it’s about balance.”
read more and view the video
Teacher Spends Two Days as a Student and Is Shocked at What She Learns
Do teachers really know what students go through? To find out, one teacher followed two students for two days and was amazed at what she found. Her report is in following post, which appeared on the blog of Grant Wiggins, the co-author of “Understanding by Design” and the author of “Educative Assessment” and numerous articles on education. A high school teacher for 14 years, he is now the president of Authentic Education, in Hopewell, New Jersey, which provides professional development and other services to schools aimed at improving student learning.
CSTA OFFERS NOTABLE WOMEN IN COMPUTING PLAYING CARDS FOR SALE
One of the projects, CSTA is working on is a guide to encourage people to write Wikipedia pages on Notable Women in Computing. To advertise this project I have created a deck of playing cards of notable women in computing. We have about 300 notable women in our database. For each one we have the status of their Wikipedia page (whether they have one or not, or have a page that needs work). We selected 54 of the women and put each one on a different card. Shafi Goldwasser, Turing Award Winner, is the Jack of hearts, Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd, is one of the jokers, etc. If you want to order them now, we have started a kickstarter running now where you can get them for $10/deck and they will be shipped to you in December. We also have a poster of all the cards there. If you want to know more about the project,the cards, or to order cards now at $10/deck to get in December from the kickstarter, please click here.
When Women Stopped Coding
Modern computer science is dominated by men. But it hasn’t always been this way. A lot of computing pioneers — the people who programmed the first digital computers — were women. And for decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged, even as the share of women in other technical and professional fields kept rising. What happened?
Listen to the story here
New Web Privacy System Could Revolutionize the Safety of Surfing
University College London
Researchers at University College London (UCL), Google, Stanford University, Chalmers, and Mozilla Research say they have developed an open source system that protects Internet users’ privacy while increasing the flexibility for Web developers to create applications that combine data from different websites, thereby improving the safety of surfing the Web. The system, called Confinement with Origin Web Labels (COWL), works with Mozilla’s Firefox and the open source version of Google’s Chrome Web browsers and prevents malicious code in a website from leaking sensitive information to unauthorized parties. “COWL achieves both privacy for the user and flexibility for the Web application developer,” says UCL professor Brad Karp. “Achieving both these aims, which are often in opposition in many system designs, is one of the central challenges in computer systems security research.”
Google Working on Large-Scale Video Displays
The Wall Street Journal
Google’s advanced-projects lab, Google X, is developing a giant display consisting of smaller screens that fit together to create a seamless image. The modular pieces can be arranged to form different sizes and shapes. The large screen could be used to watch TV or movies, browse the Internet, and read email, perhaps simultaneously, says NPD DisplaySearch research director Riddhi Patel. However, the project is still in the early stages of development because of the technical challenges associated with building such large screens and making the borders between the screen modules appear seamless. “The big challenge is to electronically, and through software, do the stitching between the seams,” according to a person familiar with the project.
14-Year-Old Prodigy Programmer Dreams In Code
Published on Jan 3, 2013
Fourteen-year-old programmer and software developer Santiago Gonzalez might just be the next Steve Jobs. He already has 15 iOS apps to his name and dreams of designing for Apple. At age 12, Santiago became a full-time college student and is on track to earn his bachelor’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering by age 16. By 17, when most teenagers are excited to just have their driver’s license, Santiago will have his masters degree. A self-professed computer nerd, Santiago is fluent in a dozen different programming languages and thousands of people have downloaded his apps for the Mac, iPhone and iPad.
read more and view the video
Bringing Modeling & Simulation into the Classroom with the Shodor Foundation
In this RCE podcast, Brock Palen and Jeff Squyres meet with Dr. Robert Panoff to discuss Shodor, a national resource for computational science education.
click here for podcast
Tech Companies Hope to Introduce Coding to 100 Million Students
The Wall Street Journal
The CEOs of two dozen major tech companies, including Google and Microsoft, have announced their support on Wednesday for a project by nonprofit Code.org that seeks to introduce computer science to 100 million students worldwide. The companies will promote Code.org’s Hour of Code campaign, which encourages students to explore computer coding through hour-long online tutorials. The support will take the form of encouraging their employees to try out Hour of Code tutorials and encourage students to do the same during Computer Science Education Week this December. The companies also will encourage their employees to contribute to an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that seeks to raise $5 million to help train teachers in providing computer science education.
Why the U.S. Might Just Need a Federal Commission on Robots
The Washington Post
University of Washington School of Law professor Ryan Calo makes a compelling argument for establishing a Federal Robotics Commission (FRC), according to a paper published by the Brookings Institution. Calo says an FRC could potentially help extract sense and insight from the many technological applications that separate human agency from execution. As an example of where such a body could be useful, he cites the U.S. Department of Transportation’s assignment to investigate possible software issues underlying the sudden acceleration of Toyota vehicles involved in serious accidents. The agency turned to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration for assistance, but Calo says such ad hoc cross-agency consultancy is not sustainable as a long-term strategy.
Six UC Davis C-STEM Courses Receive A-G Approval from the University of California
This year, C-STEM will support six high school courses with A-G approval and four middle school courses. High school courses developed by the C-STEM Center and A-G approved available for 2014-2015 are:
• Algebra 1 with Computing (c – math credit)
• Algebra 1 with Computing and Robotics (c – math credit)
• Integrated Mathematics 1 with Computing (c – math credit)
• Integrated Mathematics 1 with Computing and Robotics (c – math credit)
• Introduction to Computer Programming with C (g – elective)
• Computing with Robotics (g – elective)
Middle school courses developed by the C-STEM Center are:
• Math 7 with Computing
• Math 8 with Computing
• Computer Programming with C
Descriptions of these courses can be found at http://c-stem.ucdavis.edu/curriculum/high-school/.
HERB: A Robot That Can Unload a Dishwasher and (Sometimes) Take Apart an Oreo
The Washington Post
In an interview, Carnegie Mellon University Personal Computer Lab director and professor Siddhartha Srinivasa discusses his work with the Home Exploring Robot Butler (HERB). The robot has advanced manipulation skills that enable it to perform multiple functions, including unloading a dishwasher, disassembling an Oreo cookie, and acting in a play. “[HERB] was designed and developed with the main goal of manipulating in cluttered and uncertain environments with and around people,” Srinivasa notes. HERB was programmed to take the Oreo apart through the algorithmic crafting of a special Oreo cookie detector, and Srinivasa says the differing thicknesses of the cookies and cream have been problematic, with HERB only succeeding two times out of 10.
Online Education Company edX Offering Free High School Courses
The Boston Globe
Online learning collaborative edX, a partnership between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has launched massive open online courses (MOOCs) specifically tailored for high school students. edX got its start making high-level courses from Harvard and MIT available to anyone with an Internet connection, and most of its content continues to be college, if not graduate, level. But a growing portion of its user base is high school age and CEO Anant Agarwal says edX saw an opportunity to use MOOCs to help address a pervasive college readiness problem around the country. edX launched 26 new high school courses last week, on topics ranging from calculus and computer science, biology and chemistry, to French and Spanish, history and psychology. The courses were developed by 14 educational institutions, including the University of California, Berkeley, Georgetown University, and Weston Public High School. Some of the courses are designed to enable students to take the College Board’s Advanced Placement exams for their given subject, and schools could allow students to take the courses for credit. Agarwal says the new courses also might be attractive for adult learners who want to brush up on skills or start exploring a new field.
K-12 Education in California: The Next Four Years
California educational leaders in both the legislative and executive branches of State government have, over the past four years, held consistent views on how to best reform education and have taken unprecedented steps to support local schools to improve student outcomes. A new video and a new report give insights on the vision of two of the key educational leaders in California. Applied academics and career technical education will remain important components of California’s educational system. Another focus of change in education is on measures of accountability for college and career readiness. A new research report on this topic, entitled: Accountability for College and Career Readiness: Developing a New Paradigm, recommends accountability should rest on three pillars: a focus on meaningful learning, enabled by professionally skilled and committed educators, supported by adequate and appropriate resources. The report was co-authored by Linda Darling-Hammond and builds on her book The Flat World and Education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future.
How a Race for Female Tech Talent Might Narrow the Industry’s Gender Pay Gap
In report after report, companies like Apple, Google and Facebook all acknowledge that their workforces tilt heavily male. Silicon Valley companies are notoriously dominated by men, particularly in leadership roles and in jobs involving advanced technical skills. Men account for 7 in 10 workers at Twitter, for example. Many of these companies have pledged to do better — and what’s heartening about this is that efforts to improve gender diversity could also wind up accelerating other positive workforce trends: namely, closing the gap between men and women when it comes to wages. Data already suggests that the gender pay gap is less pronounced in tech than in some important fields. Meanwhile, women’s wages as a percentage of men’s have been gaining ground for years, not just in technology but across the economy as a whole. The gender pay gap in tech is still worrying, not least because the sector’s become so vital to our national well-being. But it’s a promising trajectory we’re on.
STEM Springboard: New STEM Grads Get ahead
New college graduates with degrees in STEM fields have bucked a national trend. While too many of their peers graduate with heavy debt and scant job prospects, new graduates with degrees in STEM face a much brighter future. Not only are they more likely to land jobs, the jobs they land require higher skills, and they pay more. Change the Equation’s analysis of Census Bureau data reveals stark differences in jobless rates between STEM and non-STEM graduates Recent STEM graduates are also less likely to be under-employed. Those with bachelor’s degrees are much more likely to work in jobs that actually require a bachelor’s degree.
Failing Students Saved by Stress-Detecting App
Dartmouth College professor Andrew Campbell and colleagues recently conducted a 10-week experiment with 48 students to see if data gathered from their smartphones could be used to gauge their states of mind, and their likelihood to excel or struggle academically. The researchers developed the StudentLife app to track readings from smartphone sensors in such areas as physical activity levels, sleep patterns, frequency and duration of conversations, and global-positioning system location. Students who excelled interacted frequently with other people and have longer conversations, while depressed students were less social with others and exhibited excessive or disrupted sleep patterns.
New Global STEM Alliance Launched
The New York Academy of Sciences has announced its new Global STEM Alliance, as well as releasing a new white paper outlining what it calls the global “STEM paradox.” According to the academy, what is often thought of as a shortage of graduates in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is actually a shortage of so-called “work-ready” graduates. This, along with a brain drain from developing nations and a lack of women in STEM fields, constitute the major STEM challenges around the globe. The academy plans to address these issues through its new STEM Alliance, which it will launch at the United Nations. The Alliance will have the goal of mentoring 1 million aspiring STEM leaders in over 100 countries by 2020.
Boosting Hispanic Share of Tech Workforce Could Be Key to Closing STEM Gap
The Obama administration has set a goal of increasing student exposure to opportunities in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields by 50 percent and the number of STEM college graduates by 1 million in the next decade. Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, says encouraging greater Hispanic participation in STEM fields is a crucial part of that goal. Hispanics accounted for 15 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2011, but only 7 percent of the STEM workforce. In addition, 17 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic, but only 10 percent of STEM bachelor degrees are earned by Hispanics. Munoz says the government sees this as “room for growth,” and is trying to tap that potential with investments in higher-education programs that encourage Hispanics to pursue STEM careers. One such program is at the Georgia Institute of Technology, which boasts one of the highest rates of Hispanic STEM graduates in the country.
17 Rare Images Tell the Real Story of Women in Tech
Tech isn’t a male dominated field, in many respects. Women are responsible for some of the core innovations that drive the Internet today. It’s increasingly important to remember as we read the disquieting stats about the industry. Diversity seeds creativity and it’s possible that women approach the development of tech in slightly different ways that, when combined with others’, helps produce a more powerful Internet. It’s why having more women in tech, and recognizing and celebrating their accomplishments that began over a century ago and continue today, is vital to producing a more powerful future. The first great example is from 1843, when the now-famous Adam Lovelace published instructions for the world’s first computer program. Only, there was no computer yet to run it. It was the opening salvo in a long march of innovations.
STEM Legislation, Including Computer Science Initiatives Related to UC and CSU Undergraduate Admissions, Heads to Governor’s Desk
STEM legislation, including bills pertaining to computer science, are enjoying success in the state legislature, with three on their way to Gov. Jerry Brown for signing, including SB1200, AB1764, and AB1539. SB 1200 authored by State Senator Alex Padilla (D- Pacoima) calls on the UC and CSU to establish academic standards for high school computer science courses that would be accepted for undergraduate admissions. AB1764 (see CSLNet’s Letter of Support to the Governor would help educators overcome a major obstacle to advancing computer science in schools by authorizing school boards to award students a third year of math credit for satisfactory completion of a UC-approved computer science course if the school district requires more than the state minimum of two years of math instruction for high school graduation. AB 1539 from Assembly member Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills) would require the State Board of Education (SBE) to adopt computer science standards for kindergarten through 12th grade by 2019.
more information on these bills and others
2014 Broadcom Foundation MASTERS Middle School Finalists Announced
Finalists Announced – October 28, 2014
One student from San Diego is named. On September 17, Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science & the Public (SSP) announced the selection of 30 students as finalists in the fourth annual Broadcom MASTERS® – the nation’s most prestigious Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) competition for middle school students. The finalists include 12 girls and 18 boys covering 13 states and representing 29 schools. Finalists were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists and engineers from among 300 semifinalists and 2,054 applicants in 46 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico.
The Next Hot Major for Minority Students: Computer Science
Computer Science Online
Opportunities abound for African-American and Hispanic students in computer science, a field eager to diversify. This guide will help minority students understand why they should consider computer science, how they can explore and prepare before college, what to look for in a degree program, and how to afford a degree. The fields of computer science and programming have been growing in popularity for decades, due primarily to solid financial and professional prospects, and the incalculable effect of the digital revolution on every facet of our culture and society. However, the abundant opportunities of the computer science world have, for the most part, been overlooked by most underrepresented minority students, particularly those in the African-American, Hispanic, and Native American communities. The reasons for this problem are numerous and complex, as are its solutions. This website includes many websites that offer advice, scholarships and opportunities for minority students (including women) and pursuing computer science.
$6M Gift to San Francisco Public Schools and Code.org Will Promote Computer Science Education
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff is taking action to help make computer science an elective in San Francisco’s middle schools. Salesforce.com is gifting $5 million to the city’s public schools and $1 million to Code.org for computer science education. The company sets aside 1 percent of its equity for a foundation, 1 percent of its employees’ time as community service and 1 percent of its product as a donation. “We’re really doubling down on what we learned in our first year of creating digital classrooms and we’re really focusing on computer science,” said Salesforce.com Foundation President Suzanne DiBianca. Last year, the company’s foundation donated $2.7 million to the city’s middle schools. Computer science education through programs like Code.org will help more of the local community participate and get jobs in a technology industry that they might otherwise see as insular.
Coding in the Classroom: Computational Thinking Will Allow Children to ‘Change the World’
International Business Times
Coding is now an integral part of the new national curriculum in England, which was designed to help more students gain an understanding and appreciation of modern technology. “Computer programs are among the largest and most sophisticated artifacts that human beings have ever built,” says Microsoft researcher Simon Peyton Jones. Within the new curriculum, computer science is treated as a foundational discipline that every child must know. The curriculum aims to develop computational thinking skills that will enable pupils to understand and change the world. “Not every child needs to learn a programming language, but without some understanding of how code works and how it affects our lives, we may be depriving young people of new avenues to creativity, and valuable skills for the job market,” says Kuato Studios’ David Miller.
Socially-assistive Robots Help Kids With Autism Learn by Providing Personalized Prompts
University of Southern California
This week, a team of researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering will share results from a pilot study on the effects of using humanoid robots to help children with autism practice imitation behavior in order to encourage their autonomy. Findings from the study, entitled “Graded Cueing Feedback in Robot-Mediated Imitation Practice for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” will be presented at the 23rd IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN) conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Aug. 27. The pilot study was led by Maja Matarić, USC Viterbi Vice Dean for Research and the Chan Soon-Shiong Chair in Computer Science, Neuroscience and Pediatrics, whose research focuses on how robotics can help those with various special needs, including Alzheimer’s patients and children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her research team included doctoral student Jillian Greczek, postdoctoral researcher Amin Atrash, and undergraduate computer science student Edward Kaszubski.
Five Miss America contestants will win STEM Scholarships
Typically on the boardwalk of Atlantic City there is a lot of glamour and beauty during the Miss America pageant, but what gets overlooked is the contestants and the brains behind their beauty. In a world where women are constantly objectified for their image, it is important at the apex of that philosophy to see woman being praised for intelligence. The 53 contestants come from all over the country and U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Miss America Foundation is the world’s largest provider of assistance to young women totaling more than 45 million dollar in scholarships each year. The STEM scholarship is for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Numerous corporations and activist groups such as MomsEveryday are STEM scholarship sponsors.
Calling Kids of All Ages: US Patent and Trademark Office Launches Web Page Encouraging Invention and Science and Tech in School
Did you know that only one U.S. president earned a patent? Do you know which one? Have you ever wondered where the famous expression “The Real McCoy” comes from? The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) launched a newly redesigned section of its website for kids, but not kids alone! Parents, teachers, and teens will find lots of resources as well as hands-on activities for anyone from preschool to high school. The website encourages students of all ages to engage making, inventing, and discovering the importance of intellectual property. The site also exposes future inventors and entrepreneurs to the inventive thinking process.
Meet Black Girls Code, The 2014 TechCrunch Include Grant Recipient
TechCrunch is excited to announce Black Girls Code as the recipient of the first TechCrunch Include Grant of $50,000. The mission of Black Girls Code aligns perfectly with the founding goals of the Include Grant by aiming to increase participation of women and girls of color in technology and computer science by facilitating early involvement in the field, moving them from being consumers of technology to creators of it. Through a series of after-school workshops and summer camps that leverage computer science with other disciplines, such as art, media, business and engineering, Black Girls Code drives engagement around girls’ existing interests.mOver 145 organizations from our own backyard of San Francisco to cities around the world applied to the program. These groups work across every demographic, including technical training and education, hosted hackathons and meetups. They build communities of founders and provide seed money. All of them advocate to make tech a more inclusive place.
Computer science: It’s where the jobs are, but schools don’t teach it
Fifty-six percent of California public high schools don’t offer a single course in computer science or programming. Why should you care? The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 1.4 million new jobs in computing will be created this decade. That’s more than all the new jobs in all other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields combined. Yet only about 400,000 students are expected to earn bachelor’s degrees in computing during the same period. There won’t be enough graduates to fill these jobs. By contrast, in engineering, life sciences, physical sciences and mathematics, the number of college graduates will exceed the number of jobs. There’s a lot of talk within K-12 about the importance of STEM. But when it comes to curricula, computer science doesn’t count toward California high school graduation requirements or toward the admission requirements in math or science for admission to the University of California. Computer science only counts as a free elective.
Using Technology To Support At-Risk Students
The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) today released research recommendations entitled: Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning. The report found three important variables for success with at-risk students who are learning new skills.
– Interactive learning;
– Use of technology to explore and create rather than to “drill and kill”; and,
– The right blend of teachers and technology
The report makes the following recommendations:
- Technology access policies should aim for one-to-one computer access.
- Technology access policies should ensure that speedy internet connections are available to prevent user issues when implementing digital learning.
- When procuring materials and technology, consider that at-risk students benefit most from technology that is designed to promote high levels of interactivity and engagement with data and information in multiple forms.
- Curriculum and instructional plans should enable students to use technology to create content as well as to learn material.
- Policymakers and educators should plan for blended learning environments, characterized by significant levels of teacher support and opportunities for interactions among students, as companions to technology use.
If You Want to Be Rich and Powerful, Majoring in STEM Is a Good Place to Start
Early education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is important not just because it builds the foundation for success in those fields, but for almost all aspects of modern life, writes Jonathan Wai, a researcher at the Duke University Talent Identification Program and Case Western Reserve University. He says education in mathematics in particular builds some of the key competencies–pattern recognition, abstract reasoning, and problem solving–necessary for success. Wai points to numerous billionaires including Carlos Slim and Steve Schwartzman, who credit their accumulated wealth to their facility with numbers. Wai’s own research has found that nearly a quarter of the attendees of the annual gathering of the world’s monied elite in Davos, Switzerland, have backgrounds in STEM fields, a number that jumps to almost 30 percent of the billionaires in attendance.
University of Iowa Looks to Start High School STEM Academy
The University of Iowa may soon be home to a new academy serving high school students who excel in math and science. The academy would serve as an expansion of the Belin-Blank Center, which educates gifted, primary and secondary-aged students from Iowa and throughout the world, by offering an intensive two-year program focused on STEM aimed at high school juniors and seniors. Although participating students would follow programs designed specifically for academy students, completed coursework would generate college credit as undergraduate students.
These 12 Tech Companies Have (Relatively) High Numbers of Women
When Facebook disclosed data on its workforce diversity last month, it was both good news and bad news regarding female employees. The good: Women hold 47% of non-technology jobs, such as in sales, marketing and finance. The bad: Just 15% of its engineers and computer scientists are women Many tech companies know they have a lot of work to do when it comes to diversity in their workforce, especially in technical positions. But some companies seem to be having an easier time hiring female techies than others. ntelo, a startup that analyzes social data to help corporate recruiters spot promising candidates, put together a list of tech companies with some of the highest percentages of female technologists Of course, only the companies know precisely their gender breakdown, and just a few have publicized their numbers. Last month, Google revealed that 17% of its technology employees are female, roughly the same number that Entelo had previously estimated.
Working towards a Healthy Pipeline: Encouraging CS Undergraduates from U.S. Institutions to Consider Graduate School and Careers in Research
The CRA Education Committee’s (CRA-E) mission is to address society’s need for a continuous supply of talented and well-educated computing researchers. The committee’s efforts include both research on the state of the “domestic student pipeline” and developing resources to maintain its health. The fraction of Ph.D. students who are domestic (U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents) has been in decline over the last several decades from around 70% in the mid-1980’s to under 50% in recent years. A 2013 CRA-E report shows that a small number of departments have accounted for most of the production of domestic undergraduates going on to Ph.D. programs: From 2000 to 2010, approximately 50% of Ph.D.’s awarded to domestic students come from 54 institutions of baccalaureate origin and the other 50% come from over 747 institutions.
UC Davis C-STEM Center Awarded Program Status
Professor Harry Cheng, Director of the UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM), today announced the C-STEM Center has been granted UC A-G Program Status. This means that schools can easily add C-STEM A-G approved courses to their own school’s “A-G” course lists without submitting a complete course content description and going through the traditional approval process with UCOP. In 2014-2015 academic year period, C-STEM plans to fully support the following courses: IIn May 2014, C-STEM became a UC Approved Educational Preparation Program for Undergraduate Admission. As a UC approved Educational Preparation Program, participation in the C-STEM program, C-STEM student and team awards, and C-STEM extracurricular activities are now also recognized in the UC admissions process for all UC campuses as achievements that have explicitly prepared students for college and career. As a UC approved Educational Preparation Program with UC A-G program status, C-STEM is in a very unique position to influence the future direction of K-14 computing and STEM education and will have significant impact on the talent pipeline development for the state and nation.
For more information about C-STEM curriculum contact Heidi Espindola, C-STEM Center Program Manager, by phone at: (530) 752-9082 or by email: email@example.com.
Perspective: Computer Programming Is a Trade; Let’s Act Like It
The Wall Street Journal
One million programming jobs in the United States could go unfilled by 2020 due to the enormous mismatch between the supply and demand for computer programmers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fortunately, a computer science degree is not necessary to get a job in programming. University courses in computer science favor theory rather than making websites, services, and apps that companies care about, writes Christopher Mims. Code-school founders say committed programming students are finding jobs whether or not they have a college degree. Computer programming is now a trade that someone can develop a basic proficiency in within weeks or months, secure a first job, and get onto the same path to upward mobility offered to in-demand, highly-paid peers, Mims says. He contends we have entered an age in which demanding that every programmer has a degree is like asking every bricklayer to have a background in architectural engineering. Anecdotal evidence also indicates that coding schools are more inclusive of women and people of color.
Back to School – Exploring Computer Science: from the Classrooms of L.A. Schools to a Nationwide Effort
The following is a guest blog post from Gera Jochum, Communications Specialist for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF). A new video produced by the National Science Foundation showcases an innovative computer science curriculum that’s been a huge success in Los Angeles public schools and is now spreading across the nation. The video highlights the work of Jane Margolis, an educator and researcher at UCLA, who has dedicated her career to democratizing computer science education and addressing under-representation in the field. Her work inspires students from diverse backgrounds to study computer science and use their knowledge to help society. With support from the National Science Foundation, Margolis and her team investigated why so few girls and under-represented minorities are learning computer science. After studying the problem, they launched a new computer science curriculum in 2009 called “Exploring Computer Science” or ECS, to reverse the trend.
Alternative STEM Programs Offer Early Career Prep for Students
U.S. News & World Report
The Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program’s (ANSEP) Summer Bridge program included more than 20 high school students that took college-level math courses and interned with science, technology, engineering, or mathematics-oriented agencies or companies. “[The program] provides students right out of high school an opportunity to put their feet on the ground, roll up their sleeves and go right into their career path,” says ANSEP founder Herb Schroeder. For example, Havan Shaginoff, who will be attending the University of Alaska-Anchorage in the fall, spent June and July working in a microbiology lab alongside wildlife biologists to examine genetic samples of a regional bird at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center. Participating in the Summer Bridge program helps students familiarize themselves with college life and a professional environment, according to Schroeder. “It helped me see how college is going to be,” says ANSEP Summer Bridge participant Randall Friendly, who spent several weeks working with the Fish and Wildlife Service in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, studying brown bears. “It helps you get used to that kind of workplace and that environment.” Schroeder believes the sooner students acquire in-the-field experience in the career industries they wish to pursue, the better.
NICS Intern Spotlight—Vijay Koju
The National Institute for Computational Science
Vijay Koju, a PhD student in computational science at Middle Tennessee State University and originally from Nepal, simulated the behavior of visible light during his summer 2014 internship at the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) this summer. His mentor was Dwayne John of the NICS high-performance computing User Assistance group. John and Koju collaborated with Dr. Justin Baba, who is a joint faculty associate professor in the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering (MABE) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a staff scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The project investigated visible light as it backscatters when passed through a medium. Visible light has the potential to be used in the early detection of diseases such as skin cancer.
read further and watch his interview on YouTube
Thirteen New Projects to Promote CyberGIS Education
CyberGIS Center for Advance Digital and Spatial Studies
The National Science Foundation-supported CyberGIS Project has selected 13 projects led by researchers across the United States for funding through its CyberGIS Fellows program, which supports the development of cyberGIS education materials and curricula. The CyberGIS Fellows will hold visiting appointments at the CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and will have opportunities to develop collaborations with these two interdisciplinary programs. CyberGIS—geographic information science and systems (GIS) based on advanced cyberinfrastructure—has emerged during the past several years as a vibrant interdisciplinary field impacting a broad swath of scientific domains and research areas. Due to the field’s rapid development, most of the related curricula and education materials do not systematically teach concepts and principles underlying cyberGIS and cover problem-solving skills revolving around cyberGIS. The CyberGIS Fellows will address this gap.
Computer Science Teaching Jobs Are Programmed To See An Increase In Los Angeles
California remains one of the top states in the nation that puts to work the largest number of computer science teachers, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In greater Los Angeles, post-secondary educators earn an average annual salary of more than $90,000. As enrollment levels at colleges, universities and business schools continue to rise, forecasters predict the number of vocational positions to spike by as much as 19 percent in coming years. “Each passing year sees intensification in the importance of software, thereby making computer science educators increasingly vital,” said Dr. Russ Abbott, a professor of computer science at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). “Computer scientists and computer science educators are well positioned to participate in that growth.”
Diversity Data Shows Need to Focus on Women of Color
Huffington Post Blog
The floodgates holding back the tech industry’s dismal diversity data are now wide open. First Google, then LinkedIn and Yahoo, and now Facebook have soaked Silicon Valley watchers with what many of us already assumed: the tech community is mostly white and male. The statistics about racial and gender diversity in the technology field are disheartening and signal the need for efforts to increase the presence of women and African American, Latino, and Native American professionals in computing and technology fields. There is currently a fair amount of dialogue and momentum, focused on increasing numbers of women and underrepresented people of color in the tech industries — as there is a great need for it. The nation is recognizing the benefits of engaging and preparing diverse groups in the rapidly-growing tech industry in order to keep pace with economic demands.
NYU Offers STEM Summer Classes to City Students
Nearly 500 city students are taking classes in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — in mostly free summer camp programs operated by New York University. The classes focus on cybersecurity, video games, renewable energy, computer coding and other white-hot fields and are taught by staffers and students at NYU’s Polytechnic School of Engineering in downtown Brooklyn. Fifty city teachers are also working with NYU staffers this summer to bolster their own ability to deliver STEM classes, said Katepalli Sreenivasan, NYU School of Engineering president and dean.
More on Computer Programming: Train Kids Early
Starting this September, every single K-12 student in Great Britain will start taking classes in computer programming. That is, kids at the age of five will take programming, and they won’t stop until they’re 16 at least. A majority of these children will be using the free online learning platform Codecademy, says co-founder Zach Sims. Ditto France, Estonia and Buenos Aires. In China, Codecademy, which has programming lessons contributed by more than 100,000 people from around the world, has been cloned multiple times. Meanwhile in the U.S., where education is controlled by the states, fewer than 20 even recognize computer science as a science; the rest consider it an elective.
Computer Science Education Act Hits Critical Milestone
As the saying goes, to outcompete, a nation or business must out-compute. An explosion in the number of computationally-driven disciplines has created a huge demand for highly-trained scientists and engineers. Congress is currently considering a bill that would help bridge the skills gap and bolster national competitiveness. The Computer Science Education Act (HR 2536) seeks to make computer science a core competency by strengthening elementary and secondary computer science education. While science and engineering were hallmarks of innovation over the 19th and 20th centuries, what sets the 21st century apart is the rise of information technology and the knowledge-based economy. As the bill’s authors point out, computer science drives the information technology sector of the United States, which is a key contributor to the economic output of the nation.
Coding Classes: Students, Dogged Teachers Overcome Obstacles to Add Computer Science Classes
San Jose Mercury News
Although California businesses and political leaders have been encouraging high schools to increase the number of computer science classes offered to young students, it has proven problematic to get the programs off the ground. For starters, it is difficult to find qualified teachers because California does not offer a computer science teaching credential. “We don’t have people with the knowledge to teach those classes, nor are those people showing up when we’re looking for them,” says San Jose Unified curriculum director Jackie Zeller. In addition, because computer science is not required for admittance into public universities, it must vie for enrollment with other elective courses such as music and art. Despite these obstacles, about half of the comprehensive high schools in San Jose Unified, San Jose’s East Side Union, and San Mateo Union will offer coding classes in the coming fall.
Middle-school girls dive into STEM education at Darby Creek
Ohio Supercomputer Center
Fifteen middle school girls from around the state are studying the biological systems of Big Darby Creek and then are leveraging powerful technology to compare their findings with federal environmental data to determine the human impacts. The students are attending the Ohio Supercomputer Center’s annual Young Women’s Summer Institute (YWSI) at The Ohio State University this week. These academically gifted young women are investigating environmental watershed issues, while exploring career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) began this annual weeklong residential program in 2000 to encourage young women to develop an interest in primarily male-dominated STEM fields. YWSI teaches young female students that an interest in math and science can transform into a lifelong career. Women who work in various STEM industries will visit the students throughout the week to discuss their rewarding professions.
BME students ‘need more support’ in computer science
“While most computer science graduates go on to well-paid, professional jobs, too many find themselves unemployed,” the Labour-backed report, Digital Skills for Tomorrow’s World, says. “This is concentrated among black and minority ethnic students, who tend to achieve lower grades at university and are then more likely to be unemployed. This cannot be excused and is an urgent issue that universities must address. The report – by the UK Digital Skills Taskforce – cites research by the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing, a professional association for staff of university computing departments, that highlights that fewer than half of BME computer science graduates obtain a first or 2:1 degree, compared with 63 per cent of their white peers.
Twelve FIRST Students Celebrated for Achievements in STEM and Innovation at 2014 White House Science Fair
As part of the 2014 White House Science Fair, President Obama celebrated the student winners of a broad range of STEM competitions from across the country. He also announced new steps as part of his Education to Innovate campaign, an effort to get more girls and boys motivated to succeed in STEM fields. Additionally, this year’s Fair included a specific focus on girls and women who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work. In a White House press release, President Obama said: “When students excel in math and science, they’re laying the groundwork for helping America compete for the jobs and industries of the future. That’s why I’m proud to celebrate outstanding students at the White House Science Fair, and to announce new steps my Administration and its partners are taking to help more young people succeed in these critical subjects.”
UC Berkeley Information School Team App for West African Fishermen Snags Sustainable Fishing Prize
A team of four students and alumni from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information has won the grand prize of the Fishackathon programming challenge. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the event brought together participants from across the country in a competition to develop creative solutions for the sustainable management of fisheries and the protection of oceans. The teams addressed challenges facing small fisheries such as overfishing, illegal fishing, lack of resources, and the degradation of the marine environment.
STEM Pipeline Problems to Aid STEM Diversity
Brown University scientists have written a paper suggesting four research-based ideas to lead more underrepresented minority students into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers, based on an analysis of the STEM pipeline. Representation of minorities in STEM college degrees and Ph.D.’s diminishes over time, with many of those entering the programs not completing them. “That pipeline we’ve laid? We’re stuffing it but the yield is less than we expect,” says Brown professor Andrew G. Campbell. “That’s because it’s not a horizontal pipeline, it’s a vertical one. You can’t just stuff it and walk away.” Among incoming college freshmen, similar proportions of underrepresented minority (URM) and non-URM students express interest in STEM subjects, but URM students are less likely to graduate in STEM subjects.
Unprecedented PLTW Growth in California
California’s Project Lead the Way (PLTW) team is achieving unprecedented growth in California. The PLTW network in California has six regional hubs, four affiliate universities, and nearly 700 schools. Of those 700 schools, almost half will offer PLTW for the first time this fall. The number of PLTW schools has doubled between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. While historically an engineering and biomedical science program, PLTW is now moving into computer science. PLTW is developing courses that form a comprehensive computer science pathway and is continuing to increase its offerings in this field. The PLTW program now includes high school and middle school programs and PLTW is beginning to offer elementary curriculum and programs.
Google Invests $50 Million to Close the Tech Gender Gap
Google has promised to do all it can to recruit more women into Silicon Valley, and now the company is launching a $50 million initiative to teach young girls how to code. In May, Google announced that only 17% of its tech employees are women. There will be 1.4 million computing jobs available in 2020, but only 400,000 computer-science graduates from U.S. universities to fill them. Part of the problem is that only 12% of computer-science degrees go to women, and in order for Silicon Valley to survive and thrive, it must be able to recruit more engineering talent from the other 50% of the population. Realizing the extent of the problem, Google is launching Made With Code, a website that includes coding projects, stories from female technology role models and resources for parents. Google has invested a lot more than just money in the project. The company conducted research to determine why girls are opting out of learning how to code: the number of female computer-science majors has dropped dramatically since 1984, when 37% of computer-science degrees went to women.
Some Universities Crack Code in Drawing Women to Computer Science
New York Times
At Carnegie Mellon University, 40 percent of incoming freshmen to the School of Computer Science are women, the largest group ever. At the University of Washington, another technology powerhouse, women earned 30 percent of computer science degrees this year. At Harvey Mudd College, 40 percent of computer science majors are women, and this year, women represented more than half of the engineering graduates for the first time. These examples provide a road map for how colleges can help produce a more diverse group of computer science graduates. They also help answer a controversial question: Does the substance of computer science instruction need to be adjusted to attract women, or does recruitment and mentorship?
Chart: The Top Tech Companies for Internships
Glassdoor has released a list of the 25 highest rated companies, which are hiring interns this year. It also put together the map above showing where internships are geographically located right now. Thirteen tech companies make the list, including Facebook and Google, which led the group. (Of course, Google should be in the mix given that its internship program was the source of a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson). Three Seattle companies made the list: Microsoft (#7), Nordstrom (#24) and Amazon (#25). The list was created based on intern feedback over the past year.
Teenager Unleashes Computer Power for Cancer Diagnosis
Duke University undergraduate Brittany Wenger recently spoke at the Royal Society of Medicine in London about her research into using artificial intelligence to teach computers to diagnose cancer. In high school, Wenger began experimenting with neural networks, and decided to apply her research to improving the diagnosis of breast cancer. She developed an artificial intelligence program to analyze data from a breast tissue biopsy. “I’m trying to teach the computer how to think so it can detect patterns that allow it to diagnose cancers easier and quicker,” Wenger says. Two hospitals, one in the United States and another in Italy, are testing Wenger’s breast cancer program. Beyond the breast cancer research, Wenger is working on a cloud-based program that targets leukemia by seeking genetic patterns that can foreshadow relapse. Cancer Research UK senior science information officer Dr. Emma Smith says computers have significantly advanced cancer diagnosis and personalized treatments. “This depth of knowledge has already led to big steps forward in diagnosing cancer and getting patients more tailored treatments,” Smith says.
Google for Education’s Eco-System
In a recent webinar sponsored by Google, James Leonard from the Google for Education team gave an overview of Google’s key principles and strategies to support education. Hank Thiele, Assistant Superintendent of Technology and Learning for the Maine Township High School District 207 in Illinois, gives a firsthand account of how his district implemented 1-to-1 computing using Google Apps and Chromebooks.
view the webinar
Q&A: What Separates Women From Men in Tech Careers
In an interview, HP Cloud Services vice president of product marketing and cloud evangelist Margaret Dawson discusses the technology gender divide. Dawson says girls are directed away from computers at an early age, limiting their options over time. Although many people believe a tech career equates to being an “IT guy,” there are many paths to working in computer science, according to Dawson. “People tend to think, ‘I don’t have a computer science degree,’ or, ‘I can’t code,’ but we need more business and go-to-market brains too,” Dawson says, noting many different personalities and skills are necessary in the technology industry. Technology leaders should find women with potential and encourage them to push their boundaries, because sometimes women lack the confidence to do so otherwise, she says.
BirdBrain Technologies to Launch Hummingbird Duo with Your Support
BirdBrain Technologies, makers of the Finch robot and the Hummingbird robotics kit, is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign page for their next version of Hummingbird, the Hummingbird Duo. The Hummingbird Duo may be the first electronics kit that is fun and educational for a fourth grader, a high school student, a college engineering student, or an adult hobbyist. The Duo kits allow programming in Scratch and other drag and drop environments, the Arduino environment, AVR GCC, Python, and Java. Duo comes with motors, LEDs, sensors, and the newly designed Duo controller (Duo because it has two sides – Hummingbird and Arduino). We are very excited about the potential of Duo to sneak coding and computer science into other classes, and to create collaborative possibilities for projects between CS or other STEM courses and the humanities/arts (Robot Poetry, anyone?).
view campaign here
Final California State Budget STEM Highlights
The California STEM Learning Network is pleased the 2015 state budget will include additional resources for schools to support implementation of high quality programming in STEM. This high-need investment comes as schools continue to dig out from under massive spending cuts suffered during the Great Recession that essentially left California school districts as one of the most underfunded education systems in the nation. However, CSLNet will continue to push for additional continued reinvestments that are needed to meet STEM education and workforce demands throughout the state. In particular, we urge that additional funds be considered for this use if state revenues run above Governor Jerry Brown’s forecast, as many experts predict.
Report: Good STEM People Are Hard to Find
Dayton Daily News
An advertisement for a technical job in the Dayton area goes unanswered for more than a month on average, according to a new national report that ranks the region 37 out of 100 metro areas for filling STEM jobs. But local employers say they’re getting the employees they need. The average duration of a company advertisement for job openings in the Dayton area is 36.1 days, said Jonathan Rothwell, an associate fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of a report on the problem of finding the right people for STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics)-related jobs.
Female Cyber Sleuths Hack Into Silicon Valley’s Boys Club
Tiffany Rad is turning software-industry gender stereotypes on their head. Rad is a white hat, a hacker who specializes in looking for security holes so that they can be fixed. The attorney turned her computer-hacking hobby into a career in 2008, when she submitted a research proposal to an underground security conference in New York. Rad’s talk there propelled her into the industry, and she is now manager of threat research for ThreatGrid, a specialist in malicious software analysis that Cisco Systems Inc. bought in May.
Inductee to Tijuana Walk of Fame Encourages Girls to Follow Her Path to Career in Engineering
One of the first initiatives Olivia Graeve put in place when she arrived on the UC San Diego campus last year was an academic summer program for female high school students from Tijuana and San Ysidro. The girls lived on campus and conducted research in engineering and biology labs. The program is close to Graeve’s heart. She was once a Tijuana high school student and attended Southwestern Community College for two years before transferring to UC San Diego, where she earned a bachelor’s in structural engineering in 1995. Today, as a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering who specializes in materials science, she hopes to inspire more female students to follow her path.
NSF Supports Learning through Making
In the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, a group of young people is making tiaras–light-up tiaras. Using copper wire, a soldering iron, batteries and LED lights, they use trial and error to build the kind of design they want. In the process, they start to figure something out. If you want all your lights to glow, you have to create a parallel circuit. A series circuit will not provide enough voltage. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has long supported making as a pathway to STEM learning outside of school. In 2005, NSF funded the Playful Invention and Exploration (PIE) Institute to increase the capacity of museum educators and exhibitors to design and implement technology-integrated inquiry activities for the public.
ESRI Pledges Free GIS Software for Schools
President Barack Obama recently announced ESRI has pledged $1-billion of mapping software available free to US K12 schools. Since 1969, Esri, headquartered in Redlands, California, has built geographic information system (GIS) software to enable organizations to create responsible and sustainable solutions to problems at local and global scales. Understanding how to use effectively use GIS will open the doors to many careers. Students love maps, especially when they can tweak them. GIS mapping software engages their instinct for visual understanding with the capacity to explore and investigate questions. Esri software is used across the globe, in nearly every industry, to make maps and analyze data. From farming to defense to modeling climate to routing school buses, users on workstations and laptops collaborate with others on tablets and smartphones, building data, designing maps, and making decisions. Visit http://connected.esri.com/ for more information about this free program and for examples of how high school students are using GIS to solve problems. For more information and to request a free ArcGIS online organization account, please visit https://esri.app.box.com/connectedrequest.
Pixar to Give Away ‘Toy Story’ 3D RenderMan Software
Pixar plans to make a non-commercial version of RenderMan freely available to students, institutions, researchers, developers, and for personal use. The firm, owned by Disney, says it will release the three-dimensional (3D) rendering software “without any functional limitations, watermarking, or time restrictions.” The software has been used to render images for films such as “Toy Story,” “Monsters Inc.,” and “Harry Potter.” RenderMan has been around for more than 25 years and is “very important at the higher end of the entertainment, animation, and visual effects industries,” says 3D World editor Ian Dean. RenderMan is facing increasing competition from rival animation rendering programs such as VRay and Arnold, and Dean says Pixar’s move could be construed as a response to this trend.
Google Launches Made with Code to Help Girls Learn to Build Technology
In a post on Google’s official blog, YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki shared a common concern for many women in tech: that there are “far too few young girls” pursuing similar careers. Less than 1% of high school girls, she said, express interest in majoring in computer science. Google wants to tackle that problem. Made with Code, launched Thursday, wants to inspire girls to code and includes introductory coding projects and a commitment of $50 million over three years to support programs that can help get more women into computer science. Made with Code launched with partners Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling, MIT Media Lab and the National Center for Women & Information Technology, among others. It will include collaborations with organizations such as the Girl Scouts of the USA and Girls Inc. to introduce Made with Code to girls in their networks. Girls and their parents will have a resource directory they can use to find more information about local events, camps, classes and clubs. The program will also reward teachers who support girls who take computer science courses on Codecademy or Khan Academy.
Campaigns Emerge to Attract More Women to Careers in IT
Nonprofit associations, academic organizations, and major corporations are launching efforts to attract more women to the information technology (IT) field. According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), 95 percent of girls say they like technology, but only 9 percent are interested in pursuing an IT career. Despite the IT field’s high salaries and job satisfaction, as well as low unemployment rates, women represent only 28 percent of core IT occupations, CompTIA reports. Through its recently launched Dream IT program, CompTIA is providing educational resources and sending speakers to schools and community programs to talk to girls about IT opportunities. Major IT companies also working to draw women to the field. For example, Cisco participates in the annual Girls in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Day, organized by the International Telecommunication Union.
Another Round of Career Pathways Grants Announced!
Yesterday, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced he has secured $250 million in funding for a Career Pathways Trust program to give more California students the opportunity to apply classroom academics to specific careers of interest. The one-time competitive grant funding is part of the 2014-15 State Budget agreement among the Senate, Assembly and the Governor’s office. This second round of an additional $250 million investment in our students will continue to focus on programs where secondary schools, community colleges and industry coordinate partnerships to help develop academic curriculum around specific career fields. The apprenticeships.
Girls Need More Encouragement to Enter IT, BCS Says
CIO UK Magazine
BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, has surveyed its members and found that 79 percent believe the information technology (IT) profession would benefit from having more women in the industry. Women make up about 15 to 18 percent of IT professionals and the percentage has fallen significantly in recent years, BCS says. BCSWomen chair Gillian Arnold considers the small number of women entering the profession to be a threat to the industry and the United Kingdom. “We need to support UK employers who struggle to find IT skills for their organizations and we believe that ignoring 50 percent of the potential workforce because of their gender is ludicrous,” Arnold says.
Foreign-Born Ph.D.’s in Science Stay in U.S. After Graduation
Chronicle of Higher Education
Most foreign-born Ph.D.’s studying in the United States remain after graduation, according to a new study from the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. The report found that graduates in computer science and computer and electrical engineering are most likely to remain in the country. Nearly two-thirds of international students in science and engineering fields stay in the U.S. a decade after they earn their doctorates. China and India send the most doctoral students to the U.S. and they are the most likely to remain. The two countries account for 66 percent of foreign science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduates still in the U.S. after five years. Female graduate students are more likely to remain and the difference in the stay rate with men grows over time. Still, educators and elected officials have criticized U.S. visa policy for encouraging international students to leave the country.
UC San Diego’s ‘Physics Girl’ Wins National Science Communications Competition
Videos on physics? While some videos on physics have gained a cult-like following and hundreds of thousands of views, the subject that makes most people’s eyes glaze over still can’t compete with entertainers like Katy Perry in the YouTube world. That could change, however, thanks to an energetic young physicist who works as an outreach coordinator at UC San Diego’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences and who uses her upbeat and sometimes wacky personality to communicate physics to the public on YouTube with videos that are not only informative, but also fun and cool. Earlier this week, Dianna Cowern was awarded the top video prize for her “What is Color?” video in a national science communications competition by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at SUNY Stonybrook.
read more & view video
First Lady To Tout Role Of Arts Education Program
Delivering a forceful argument on the role of the arts in education, Michelle Obama said Tuesday that it isn’t something to be introduced after student test scores go up but is a critical element of achieving those higher test scores in the first place. The lawyer-turned-first lady argued her case while opening the first White House student talent show, featuring spirited song and dance routines by students whose schools had performed so poorly they were chosen for a new federal arts education program.
Op Ed: Students Should Move Full Steam Ahead
Salt Lake Tribune
Don Gale is spot on in his observation that while STEM education is a good thing, “it is far from being good enough in today’s world.” (“STEM is good, but not good enough,” Opinion, May 10) Several exhibits might be offered as evidence that adding an “A” for “arts” to STEM, as Mr. Gale advocates, is not only possible, it is necessary. Exhibit A is the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. One of the significant components of these new standards is the emphasis on reading, and analysis, of nonfiction text. Not only will such emphasis help students better prepare for college, it will also provide them with new opportunities to experience, and apply, significant intersections of art and science, including those specific to the American West. For example, the study of a rich biography such as Wallace Stegner’s “Beyond the Hundredth Meridian,” describing John Wesley Powell’s exploration of the Colorado River basin, would allow students to learn about critical Utah history, geology and climate, as well as the contributions of talented artists, such as Thomas Moran and William Henry Holmes, to land surveys and the scientific record.
Recruiting the Next Generation of STEM Employees
U.S. News & World Report – Delece Smith-Barrow
Hiring experts in various fields contended at the recent U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference that introducing programs to reach students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels will help nurture next-generation science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) employees. Shell Oil’s Michael J. Alvarez details his company’s outreach initiatives, which include supplying two- and four-year scholarships and internship programs, teaming with science-focused organizations, and building a Web presence that gives students, teachers, and parents resources for the next generation of potential engineers. Meanwhile, Motorola Solutions and Texas Instruments participate in robotic competitions for students, and Caterpillar has fostered strategic university partnerships.
Tech Leaders Lobby for Coding Classes in California Schools
The San Francisco Chronicle
Educators and technology industry leaders on Wednesday are sending a letter to California Gov. Jerry Brown urging him to improve computer science education in the state’s public schools. The letter notes that although California is “home to the computing revolution that transforms our lives and provides high-paying jobs,” 90 percent of K-12 schools do not teach computer science. “Besides the jobs, a basic understanding of this foundational field is relevant in every 21st century career,” the letter says. Although California has begun to take some steps to boost computer science education, it lags behind other states, such as Texas, which last month changed its education code to require all high schools to offer at least two computer-science courses.
U.S. Department of Education Announces $75 Million First in the World Competition
To spur innovation in higher education aimed at helping more students access and complete a college degree or credential, the U.S. Department of Education announced today the availability of $75 million in the First in the World (FITW) program. Click here for the Federal Register notice. The grants will fund the development and testing of innovative approaches and strategies at colleges and universities that improve college attainment and make higher education more affordable for students and families. FITW is designed to spur a diverse array of innovative ideas and approaches in order to dramatically improve student learning and outcomes. Of the $75 million made available in FY2014, the competition contains a set-aside of up to $20 million for institutions that designate as minority-serving institutions. All grants will be awarded by September. The Department will post further information, including information about webinars and other technical assistance on the FIPSE website (link).
California Department of Education Leadership Development Institute Taking Applications
The California Department of Education and Butte County Office of Education have announced applications are now being taken for the 2014-15 Leadership Development Institute. This training will help new CTE leaders meet the multiple challenges of providing industry standard career technical preparation programs while utilizing CTE/academic integrated instructional methodology and connecting STEM concepts to real world applications. The training will prepare individuals to be effective team leaders, meet the challenges of ever changing budgets and funding sources, partnership building, infusing technology, demands of accountability and the pressure to compete academically across the globe. For more information, please email Shelle Hord at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Get Girls Into Coding
New York Times
“When I was 7 years old, I knew the capitals of most major countries and their currencies. I had to, if I wanted to track down a devious criminal mastermind in the computer game “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” On screen, the ACME Detective Agency would spit out clues like notable landmarks to help players identify the city where Carmen’s globe-trotting henchmen were hiding out. I wouldn’t learn how to pronounce Reykjavik for more than a decade, but I could tell you that its currency was called the krona. I was the child of Indian immigrants, and like any begrudging Bengal tiger cub, I penciled in fill-in-the-blank maps and memorized multiplication tables after dinner. I was much more motivated to learn about geography by chasing Carmen Sandiego on the family Macintosh Plus. I couldn’t confidently point to Iceland on a map. But I did become a technology reporter.”
Carnegie Mellon-Disney Researcher Invents 3D Printing Technique for Making Cuddly Stuff
Researchers at Disney Research Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have developed a type of three-dimensional (3D) printer that produces 3D objects made of a form of loose felt. “We’re really extending the set of materials available for 3D printing and opening up new possibilities for what can be manufactured,” says CMU professor Scott Hudson. Similar to other 3D printers, the new system can make objects by working directly from computerized designs. However, CMU’s printer feeds out yarn instead of lines of melted plastic. A barbed felting needle attached to the printer head repeatedly then pierces the yarn, dragging down individual fibers into the yarn in the layers below, entangling the fibers and bonding the layers together. Hudson notes the printer does not achieve the same dimensional accuracy as conventional 3D printers because the yarn is much thicker than the layers of plastic deposited in fused deposition modeling printing.
Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding
New York Times
Seven-year-old Jordan Lisle, a second grader, joined his family at a packed after-hours school event last month aimed at inspiring a new interest: computer programming. “I’m a little afraid he’s falling behind,” his mother, Wendy Lisle, said, explaining why they had signed up for the class at Strawberry Point Elementary School. The event was part of a national educational movement in computer coding instruction that is growing at Internet speeds. Since December, 20,000 teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade have introduced coding lessons, according to Code.org, a group backed by the tech industry that offers free curriculums.
New Tool Released to Help Educators Assess Alignment of Materials to NGSS
To aid the search for resources that support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), NSTA and Achieve have been working with science educators across the country to develop a rubric to determine if resources address the letter and spirit of the standards. The Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) Rubric for science provides criteria for measuring the alignment and overall quality of lessons and units with respect to the NGSS. The purpose is to provide constructive criterion-based feedback to developers; review existing instructional materials to determine what revisions are needed, and identify exemplars/models to be used by teachers.
view & download the rubric
Strong Legislative Support for Computer Science
The Code.Org organization is lobbying in Sacramento to allow computer science courses to count as a math credit toward high school graduation requirements. AB 1764, (link), co-authored by Assemblywomen Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, and Kristen Olsen, R-Modesto, passed out of the lower house late last month on a 78-0 vote with bipartisan support. This legislation would authorize the school board of a district that requires more than two math course credits for graduation “to award a pupil up to one mathematics course credit for successfully completing an approved computer science course, as provided. “According to Amy Hirotaka, state policy and advocacy manager at the nonprofit Code.org: “Our lobbying effort has focused on the movement to make computer science count as a credit toward graduation requirements.” Code.org reached out on the issue to Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this month in a letter, signed by 28 education officials, nonprofits and top industry leaders, including salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey.
Standards for Computer Science Education Need Improvement
U.S. News & World Report
The recent U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference held a panel during which subject matter specialists issued a warning about the state of computer science education in the United States. The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) wants “to draw attention to the fact that there is a crisis in computer science education in our country,” said CSTA chair Deborah Seehorn. CSTA has released “Running on Empty,” a report that compares and contrasts computer science education on a state-by-state basis. Meanwhile, Oracle Academy’s Allison J. Derbenwick Miller said although programs such as code.org have made some progress in advancing computer science education, that success might give people the false impression there is not a computer science crisis in the country.
In Italy, a First, Modest All-Female Hackathon
The Wall Street Journal
Microsoft recently sponsored a three-day hackathon in Italy called Nuvola Rosa, or pink cloud, which was designed to encourage young women to aspire to jobs in technology and science. Nuvola Rosa involved about 700 17- to 24-year-old women from across Italy. Less than 10 percent of female Italian university graduates currently get degrees in technical or scientific fields, according to a McKinsey & Company study, which puts Italy behind Finland, France, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. Italian women entering universities tend to avoid computer programming and the hard sciences because they are perceived as too difficult and require a level of determination they are convinced they do not have, according to La Sapienza professor Tiziana Catarci. About 29 percent of Microsoft’s workforce in Italy is female, putting the company about five percent above average for the IT sector in Europe.
Dartmouth Celebrates Half Century of BASIC Language
Dartmouth University faculty, students, and national experts late last month gave a series of presentations as part of a conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) computing language and time-sharing computing being developed at Dartmouth. BASIC was developed by former Dartmouth mathematics professor John Kemeny and then student programmer Thomas Kurtz, and quickly gained popularity for its accessibility and ease of use. The conference will begin with the premiere of a documentary on the history of BASIC and it will end with a panel of experts discussing where they think computing will be in another 50 years.
STEM Opportunity for School Districts: Student Spaceflight Experiments Program
The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, and NanoRacks announce Mission 7 to the International Space Station. This STEM education opportunity immerses grades 5–14 students across a community in an authentic, high-visibility research experience, in which student teams design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the International Space StationEach participating community will be provided a real microgravity research mini-laboratory capable of supporting a single experiment. They will also receive and all launch services to fly it to Space Station in Spring 2015 and return it safely to Earth for student harvesting and analysis. A 9-week experiment design competition in each community, to be held September through November 2014 and engaging typically 300 students, will allow student teams to design and formally propose real experiments that will vie for their community’s reserved mini-lab on Space Station. A formal 2-step proposal review process, mirroring professional review, will determine the community’s flight experiment. All interested communities are asked to inquire by May 30, 2014. For more information, contact Jeff Goldstein, SSEP Program Director; 301-395-0770.
Teen’s Research on XSEDE Resources Wins Three Major Science Competitions
A 17-year-old senior at Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego’s North County recently won not one, but three major science competitions after being mentored by two UC San Diego professors in a project that combined supercomputer modeling with experimental research to speed up the discovery of influenza virus inhibitors. In all, Eric Chen was awarded $250,000 in prize money within the past 12 months by winning the trifecta of science competitions: the 2014 Intel Science Talent Search; the 2013 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology; and the grand prize in the international 2013 Google Science Fair.
Carnegie Mellon Partners with IBM to Offer Cognitive Computing Course Featuring Watson
A new computer science course offered this fall at Carnegie Mellon University will give students unprecedented access to IBM’s Watson cognitive technology as they develop mobile applications for the system, which famously beat Jeopardy! champions in a 2011 on-air showdown. The IBM Watson Group is working with Carnegie Mellon and six other universities to offer cognitive computing courses this fall that will give students the technical knowledge and hands-on experience they need to create new applications for Watson. “The home run we’re looking for is to add our vision to IBM’s technology to create an application that is useful and worthy of being spun off as a product,” said Eric Nyberg, a professor in CMU’s Language Technologies Institute (LTI) and a leading researcher in question-answering computer systems.
Code Camp Empowers High School Girls With Computer Science Education
The Stanford University Computer Science Department’s Girls Teach Girls To Code (GTGTC) program recently hosted more than 200 high school girls on campus for a “Code Camp” designed to introduce them to the various real-life applications of computer science. GTGTC also provides smaller-scale events throughout the academic year, including company tours and visits to the Computer History Museum. GTGTC’s popularity has led to plans for expansion, including trying to host Code Camp biannually as opposed to just once a year. “In the far future, we’re hoping that this is an organization with chapters in different colleges,” says GTGTC founder and coordinator Heidi Wang. “You can imagine if it was offered to girls across the nation and the world, how many girls we could reach and the impact we could make.” The program aims to show high school girls that computer science is fun and flexible, says GTGTC coordinator Jessie Duan.
Wikipedia Searches and Sick Tweets Predict Flu Cases
A new algorithm mines data from Wikipedia to track flu cases across the United States. The program is designed to monitor certain entries that a sick person would look up, such as “flu season” and “fever,” and hourly download publicly available information on how many people nationwide accessed the pages. In comparing their data with figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the researchers found they could accurately predict the number of cases in the county two weeks earlier and with a difference of just 0.27 percent. In addition, tweets about sickness, mentions of activities one might need to be healthy, and changes in Twitter use could be useful for monitoring a specific group of people, says Pennsylvania State University’s Todd Bodnar. His team at the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics analyzed the Twitter feeds of 104 students, and its new algorithm was able to identify with 99 percent accuracy if a student had suffered from flu during a given month.
A Key to Enjoying Massive Online Photo Files May Be Giving Up Some Control, Researchers Say
Carnegie Mellon News (PA)
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Microsoft Research Cambridge recently conducted a study showing people reflected more on past events and developed a renewed interest in their online photos when a device called Photobox would randomly print four or five of those photos at varying intervals each month. The findings suggest users might find value in slowing the pace of technology. “Rather than allowing these large collections of images to stay hidden away, this device explores the use of serendipity as one approach to delighting people, while also making their images a regular part of their everyday life,” says Microsoft researcher Richard Banks. The CMU researchers installed Photoboxes in three households of varying sizes and composition.
Researchers Use Twitter to Predict Crime
Tweets can be useful for predicting 19 to 25 kinds of crimes, especially for offenses such as stalking, thefts, and certain kinds of assault if the correct analysis is applied, according to researchers at the University of Virginia. Matthew Gerber from the Predictive Technology Lab and colleagues analyzed tweets from Chicago tagged to certain neighborhoods and the city’s crime database. Then they looked forward and were able to make useful predictions about areas where certain crimes were likely to occur. Gerber says the team’s algorithm learns the pattern and produces a prediction. “This approach allows the analyst to rapidly visualize and identify areas with historically high crime concentrations,” according to the research paper on the method.
High School Students Are All About Computers but Get Little Instruction in Computer Science
The Washington Post
There is a significant gap between U.S. high school students’ exposure to computer science and their use of computers and technology, and this gap is leading to a dearth of qualified professionals in technology and other fields. “People are realizing these are the skill sets that are going to lead to 21st-century jobs,” says Microsoft executive Dan Kasun. Factors in the lack of computer science study in many schools include a shortfall of computer science teachers and students’ perception of the subject as dull or intimidating. Some Washington, D.C.-area school districts are taking the initiative to address this disparity by urging more students, especially girls and minorities, to enroll in computer science courses. “We really believe the skills they will get from coding will help them in whatever career they choose,” says Charles County superintendent Kimberly Hill.
TED Talks by Women in Computer Science (21 videos)
A collection of TED talks by women with computer science degrees – one of the hottest career paths out there! Make some popcorn and get started here.
Printing Your Own Robot
National Science foundation CS Bits & Bytes
You’ve seen robots engaged in activities from manufacturing cars to playing soccer. What would you do if you could make your own robot? Now there are ways to make robots using plastic film sheets and an ink jet printer! That’s right, you can make a 3-D robot from a 2-D printer!. A robotic system is generally composed of a chassis that forms the structure or body of the robot, a processor to handle onboard programming and systems processing, motor controllers that take signals from the processor and direct motors to respond appropriately, as well as input systems such as sensors that provide information about the environment back to the processor. A new method developed by researchers funded by the National Science Foundation enable an inkjet printer to print the basic design of a robot onto plastic sheets. A copper sheet is added to the plastic one, and the circuit to control the device is printed by the ink jet printer. The circuit is embedded into the plastic, and these sheets are then cut and folded into the shape of the robot. Processors, motors, and sensors are attached, and the robot is ready to perform its tasks. This is like origami for techies—with sensors and motors attached.
Kahn Academy, in Collaboration with MIT, Aims to Fuel K-12 Student Interest in Engineering and Science (video)
MIT has launched an initiative encouraging its students to produce short videos teaching basic concepts in science and engineering. The videos — aimed at younger students, in grades from kindergarten through high school — will be accessible through a dedicated MIT website and YouTube channel. A subset of the videos will also be available on Khan Academy, a popular not-for-profit educational site founded by an MIT alumnus. “We wanted to help inspire young people to change the world through engineering and science, and realized that the 10,000 superstar students we have at MIT are uniquely positioned to do that,” says Ian A. Waitz, dean of the School of Engineering and the Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “Our students have responded with all the energy and enthusiasm we knew they would. We worked with them to design the program, and the results are fantastic.”
Mystery Class Seasons Challenge! Free Global Game of Hide-and-Seek Unlocks the Reasons for Seasons
Teachers and students in K-12 classrooms are invited to participate in Journey North’s “Mystery Class” activity, now in its 16th year. In this free Internet-based global game of hide-and-seek, students search to uncover the secret locations of the ten “mystery” sites hiding around the Earth. To guide the investigation, they track changes in day length at the mystery sites and at their own hometown, and use other interdisciplinary “clues” along the way. As they take this inspiring journey, students unlock the essential questions behind the reasons for seasons and the dramatic changes in day length that result.
New Blog Series: Getting to the “Core of the Matter”
The Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance) launched a new blog entitled “Core of the Matter,” a new series devoted to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and struggling students (#CoreMatters). To start a dialogue, the Alliance will publish a new blog post on the first and third Tuesday of every month addressing issues related to implementation of the CCSS. The posts will alternate between those written by Alliance staff and guest bloggers. On May 20, the first guest blogger will be Chris Edley, a noted legal scholar who is committed to educational equality and excellence, and former dean of UC Berkeley School of Law; co-chair of the congressionally chartered National Committee on Education Equity and Excellence, and an Alliance for Excellent Education board member. Additional guest bloggers will include Linda Darling-Hammond and Kenji Hakuta, renowned professors at Stanford University; Margarita Calderon, professor emerita at Johns Hopkins University; and Ahniwake Rose, executive director of the National Indian Education Association. If you are interested in receiving this new blog, please email email@example.com and you will receive an email notification when a new blog post in the series is published.
Google Announces Incentive Funding for Teachers
Google wants public high school students, especially girls, to discover the magic of coding. When a public high school teacher helps 4 or more female students complete an introduction to computer science course, the teacher will earn a $500 classroom funding credit to spend on whichever resources your students most need.
Vision Meets Reality, Common Core In Action
The Common Core State Standards have been reshaping the American education landscape for four years, leaving their mark on curriculum and instruction, professional development, teacher evaluation, the business of publishing, and the way tests are designed. In this special report, Education Week explores how the initial vision for the standards—and for aligned assessments—is now bumping up against reality in states, school districts, and local communities.
Shortage of Female STEM Workers Hurts Tech Industry
The low number of women working in computer science isn’t just a concern for tech companies worried about the image problem of a male-dominated workforce. It’s also a business challenge. So argues Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation, the educational arm of Intel, where she also serves as director of philanthropy. At the opening day of a conference on promoting the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, Hawkins explained that Intel, like other Silicon Valley and high-tech firms, has “special and specific needs” in the areas of computer science and computer engineering. Those two subsets of the STEM family are something of an anomaly, marked by a widening gender gap while in other technical fields the ranks of women in the workforce have been on the rise.
Why App Design Is Replacing Computer Science in Public Schools
Washington state has launched the Youth Apps Challenge, which rallies teams of students to submit either a detailed pitch for an app idea or a functional tablet or smartphone app. Each entry will be reviewed by tech industry experts, and winners will be selected in both technical and general categories. The contest is organized by the Technology Alliance, a state nonprofit that aims to boost science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. The Technology Alliance also has developed a curriculum, called Apps for Good, which puts a youth-friendly spin on the basics of inventing, building, and launching a smartphone or tablet app. “Apps have this stronger appeal, particularly to students who wouldn’t usually think of programming,” says Garfield High School computer science teacher Earl Bergquist. “There are creative and entrepreneurial aspects to it. That can bring in students who don’t have a technical inkling yet.”
Op/Ed: A Strong Education for a Strong Economy
Two industry experts say we must reconsider how we prepare future generations for their careers. In January, leaders in science, technology, education and math (STEM) gathered in our nation’s capital for the Diplomatic Courier’s “The World in 2050,” a global summit addressing the future of jobs in these fields. Teach For America was among those leaders and, along with Diplomatic Courier, we considered our global STEM future. We confronted a difficult reality: Not all nations are equally preparing their youth with the skills they’ll need to compete in the 21st century. This poses a risk to our future—some economies will flourish while others flounder. Young Americans will be competing for fulfilling, stable jobs in STEM fields against a cadre of youth in China and India who may be better prepared to fill them. Globally, we must reconsider how we prepare future generations for their careers.
Maverick at TACC Tackles Big-Scale Data Visualization (Interview – Part 1) (video)
TACC (The Texas Advanced Computer Center) at the University of Texas at Austin, has just deployed Maverick, a unique, powerful, high performance visualization and data analytics resource for the open science and engineering community.
Digital Fabrication Using Virtual Reality at Indiana University
Interior designers strive to make everyday spaces effective for the kinds of activities they support. Those who can incorporate the way people experience a given space gain an edge in mapping design to experience. IU Professor Jon Racek worked with AVL staff to incorporate the Oculus Rift virtual reality system into the design toolset for his class 3D Modeling and Design for Digital Fabrication (N201). Students designed 3D sculptures to be physically realized through a CNC router fabrication process. In so doing, they experienced the power of virtual reality as a design tool for its ability to convey real-world scale and natural human perception. Understanding and appreciating the role of advanced virtual reality technology in interior design will give students a competitive advantage when they enter the marketplace.
Microsoft, Google, Other Tech Giants Unite to Prevent Next Heartbleed
The Wall Street Journal
Microsoft, Google, and other tech giants have committed to contribute more than $3 million to the Core Infrastructure Initiative, which was launched to improve open source software. The disclosure of the Heartbleed bug in the OpenSSL encryption tool stimulated recruitment for the initiative, which Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin says should reduce the risk of similar bugs cropping up. “We have to provide resources in a way that allows [open source developers] to operate the way they have been operating, in a way that allows them to do it full time without having to worry about their next meal,” he notes. The initiative will study a wide swath of open source efforts and determine which ones could receive significant funding, with OpenSSL being the first project under consideration, according to the Linux Foundation.
More Women in IT Would Generate 2.6B Pounds for UK Economy
A recent Nominet report found that increasing the number of women working in the United Kingdom’s information technology (IT) sector could generate an extra 2.6 billion British pounds a year for the economy. Women currently make up less than 20 percent of the IT workforce, and based on current trends, the IT gender gap is set to widen over the coming years. The report, which polled IT decision makers in UK-based businesses, found that 76 percent believe they lack suitably skilled staff in IT, and of these, 58 percent say this negatively affects productivity levels, estimating on average that productivity levels are 33 percent lower as a result. The imbalance remains at the university level, with women accounting for just 19 percent of students taking computer science degrees.
NIST to Drop Crypto Algorithm From Guidance
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued a draft of amended guidance that drops a cryptographic algorithm the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is thought to have used to bypass encryption that protects much of global commerce, banking systems, medical records, and online communications. The action comes after the cryptographic community expressed outrage over NSA’s exploitation of a deterministic random bit generator (DRBG) to circumvent encryption by using guidance-specified parameters. They warn this could subsequently enable hackers to predict the secret cryptographic keys that form the foundation for the guarantees provided in the special publication. NIST recommends users and implementers switch to one of three other sanctioned DRBGs specified in the guidance. Cryptography expert Bruce Schneier says this is the right action for NIST to take to repair its credibility, even though it was unaware of NSA’s algorithm tampering.
A Degree Where Techie Meets Business Smarts
The New York Times
Science and technology graduates increasingly are pursuing a hybrid professional science master’s degree, or science M.B.A., to broaden their career opportunities. Enrollment in professional science master’s degree programs increased 23 percent from 2010 to 2013, according to the Council of Graduate Schools, while overall graduate enrollment is growing only in the single digits. Computer and information sciences are the most popular of these degrees, followed by environmental sciences and natural resources, mathematics and statistics, and biotechnology. “More than 90 percent of professional science master’s graduates that we surveyed for 2013 were employed in a job related to their field of study,” says Council of Graduate Schools president Debra W. Stewart, noting that students increasingly are pursuing degrees that prepare them for a range of career settings.
Student Wins 2014 Cyber Security Challenge as U.K. Seeks Top IT Talent
More than 40 competitors participated in the Masterclass Final of Britain’s Cyber Security Challenge, and 19-year-old student William Shackleton emerged as the winner. The finalists competed to defend London from a simulated cyberattack, in a challenge developed by cybersecurity experts from BT, the Government Communications Headquarters, the National Crime Agency (NCA), Juniper Networks, and Lockheed Martin. Shackleton will have the opportunity to take advantage of 100,000 UK pounds worth of prizes, including training courses, industry events, paid internships, and scholarship money. The government-sponsored challenge is designed to help attract more people to the information security industry. The United Kingdom is currently facing a shortage of cybersecurity skills. “Events such as the Cyber Security Challenge provide a fantastic opportunity for us to not only test the skills of those taking part but also provide them with pathways which allow them to exploit their sought-after cyber skills,” says NCA’s Kevin Williams.
Asia Supercomputer Challenge (ASC14) Winners Announced
On April 25, the largest student supercomputer challenge, ASC14, concluded with great success. Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China) was the champion, and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) won the silver prize. “The Highest Linpack award” went to Sun Yat-sen University. The brand new “e Prize” was awarded to Shanghai Jiao Tong University. ASC14 is organized by the Asia Supercomputer Community, Sun Yat-sen University, and INSPUR Group. The goal of the challenge is to promote the exchange and cultivation of young talent in all countries and regions in supercomputers, as well as to improve supercomputer application level and R&D capacity, and to enhance technical and industrial innovation via the technical driving force of supercomputers. Since launching in November 2013, ASC14 has had 82 teams from five continents register.
New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge Winners Revealed
The 24th annual New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge took place this week at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, NM. Open to any New Mexico high-school, middle-school or elementary school student, the project-based learning event is geared to teaching a wide range of skills, including research, writing, teamwork, time management, oral presentations and computer programming. This year’s Challenge welcomed more than 240 students, which made up about 70 teams from schools around the state. The winning teams were honored in a ceremony on Tuesday.
TED Ed Lessons Worth Sharing: The case of the Vanishing Honeybees (video)
In the past decade, the US honeybee population has been decreasing at an alarming and unprecedented rate. While this is obviously bad news for honeypots everywhere, bees also help feed us.
Lawmakers Call for More Computer Science in California Schools
The California state Legislature is considering six bills that address the growing concern that California students do not have the computer science skills necessary to succeed in the modern workforce. If all six bills become law, the California State Board of Education would have to develop computer science standards for grades 1 through 12 and the state higher education systems would be asked to created guidelines for courses they would be willing to accept for admission credit. One of the bills would allow school districts to offer students a third year of math credit for a computer science course, which is currently considered an elective. “Right now there is a disincentive for schools to offer computer science [courses] and a disincentive for students to take them,” says Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto). Most California high schools currently do not offer high-level computer science courses and just 13 percent of the state’s high school seniors took the Advanced Placement computer science exam last year.
Private Colleges Produce Prepared STEM Graduates
U.S. News & World Report
A recent report by the Council of Independent Colleges says small and midsized colleges are just as capable at educating and supporting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students as larger public research institutions. The report says a significant percentage of STEM graduates from smaller, private colleges elect to continue their education and earn a master’s or doctoral degree, and students at such institutions are more likely to complete their degrees in a timely fashion. About 300,000 students graduate from U.S. colleges with bachelor’s or associate’s degrees in STEM fields every year, according to a 2012 report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. However, only 40 percent of students who intend to major in a STEM field currently complete the degree program. The report found that about 1 million additional STEM professionals than the U.S. will generate at the current rate are needed in the next 10 years if the nation is to sustain its science and technology leadership.
Group Seeks to Align Curricula With Skills Needed in High-Demand Fields
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The National STEM Consortium outlined a plan to offer five new training programs to colleges to close the gap between the skills employers need and those students are learning, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges. The consortium has been allocated a $20-million grant from the U.S. Labor Department to develop the program, which initially will concentrate on composites, mechatronics, environmental technology, cybertechnology, and electric vehicle technology. The customizable curricula are freely available to colleges online, and the one-year certificate programs require full-time attendance from students and give preference to veterans.
Technology’s Man Problem
The New York Times
Feelings of being underrepresented and ostracized are common among women in technology fields such as computer engineering, and the issue of persuading more women to choose tech careers is problematic. In 2012, only 18 percent of computer-science college graduates were female, versus 37 percent in 1985, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Harvard Business School research says more than half the women who join the computer engineering field exit by midcareer, and many computer engineering professionals blame this trend on a sexist, misogynist, alpha-male culture. The tech industry is concerned about the lack of female pros for several reasons, including a profound dearth of candidates to fill available computing jobs, as well as the limited appeal of industry products designed by men. “Women are increasingly consumers; they’re not going to like products that don’t work for them,” warns Stanford University professor Londa Schiebinger.
Tech Women Are Busy Building Their Own Networks
The Washington Post
Despite their under-representation in technology careers, women are present in the field and are increasingly networking with one another to expand their opportunities. The gender gap in technology receives significant attention, but some say focusing on this discrepancy diminishes the accomplishments of the women who are working in the field. “As much as we need to increase diversity, we need to increase visibility of current diversity,” says Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder and chief executive of the Pipeline Fellowship, which trains women to become startup investors. Several networks have formed to focus on advancing the careers of women in technology, including Women in Tech, Tech LadyMafia, ACM’s Women in Computing (ACM-W), and the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT).
Computer Science Enrollments Rocketed Last Year, Up 22%
Enrollment for computer science bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S. jumped 22 percent last year, according to a sneak peek of the Computing Research Association’s (CRA) 2013 Taulbee Report, which will be published in May. The data is based on the responses of 123 departments CRA surveyed in 2012 and 2013. The survey also found that the number of degrees awarded rose 0.9 percent and new enrollments climbed 13.7 percent. Meanwhile, CRA says 1,991 Ph.D. degrees were awarded in 2013, the highest number ever in a single year and an increase of 6.8 percent from 2012. In addition, other reports suggest hiring for computer science professionals also is on the rise. A recent PayScale report found that computer engineering ranked sixth and computer science eighth among 129 college majors in terms of earning potential. Other studies also have found there is still high demand for skilled technical workers in some areas, such as Boston and San Francisco.
Women of Congress Promote STEM Education, Careers
A group of women in Congress recently met with business leaders at an event hosted by the nonpartisan Million Women Mentors to discuss how to encourage young women to enter science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. “There is a disconnect between positions America’s workforce needs and the fields young women are pursuing,” says Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY). Girls need mentorship and hands-on education that will help them view STEM careers as a possibility, female leaders say. In line with that goal, Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Kay Granger (R-TX) have introduced the 21st Century STEM for Underrepresented Students Act. The bill would use National Science Foundation grants to fund research on STEM programs that target elementary and middle school students who are typically underrepresented in STEM fields.
Is It Time To Dismantle the Lecture Hall?
In this debate, the question might not be so much about whether online education is effective, but whether it could be any worse than the existing model.
When Anant Agarwal was in college, he would “follow the professor for the first five minutes” and then get lost and spend the next hour scrambling to keep up with note taking. That’s no way to run a learning model, said this professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and CEO of edX, the storied MOOC site founded by Harvard and MIT.
On the other hand, “Online education will not replace the great colleges.” People learn from each other when they “work together, live together, sleep together,” said Jonathan Cole, professor at Columbia University and author of the 2011 book The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must Be Protected.
Then again, contended Ben Nelson, the practice of paying a professor to teach just a few students each year is not exactly an economically viable model. Those who oppose the rise of massive open online courses are critiquing the current state, “not what the potential is,” added this founder and CEO of Minerva Project, a university opening in fall 2014 where students will live in close proximity and take classes online.
Who Needs to Know How to Code
The Wall Street Journal
As the ability to code becomes increasingly important in various aspects of life, many non-IT professionals are pursuing technical skills. In addition, young children are beginning to take online programming courses and attend private coding lessons. For example, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth (CTY) offers online courses in a range of subjects for elementary- and middle-school students, and its Web development classes are growing in popularity. This year 762 children enrolled in CTY’s Introduction to Web Design course, up from 63 enrollees in 2009. There aren’t many opportunities to learn coding in elementary and middle school, and some parents want children to learn programming as early as possible, says CTY’s Patricia Wallace. Although it takes hundreds of hours to become even a junior developer, many professionals simply need to understand coding basics to know what is possible so they can work effectively with an IT team.
UCSD Online Course Developed in CSE Ranks #1 in International Ranking
After all the work they put into the online course they inaugurated in the fall, CSE Prof. Pavel Pevzner and his fellow instructors, Phillip Compeau and Nikolay Vyahhi, have concrete evidence that it was a success beyond the impressive number of people who signed up for the course – over 30,000 in all. According to CourseTalk, which tracks user reviews and ratings for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on a worldwide basis, the UC San Diego-based course on Bioinformatics Algorithms (Part I) currently ranks #1 among all online courses with ratings. The rankings are based on the course’s five-star ranking, and 13 superlative reviews that averaged 4.9 out of 5 points. The course just completed, and students may submit more reviews, so it’s difficult to know how long the UC San Diego course will remain #1.
The World’s First 3D Printed Kayak
Jim Smith, Grass Roots Engineering
I have completed construction of a completely 3D printed, customized Kayak. The Kayak measures 16ft 8in [5.08m] long and cost around $500 to make. It is made of ABS plastic, machine screws, brass threaded inserts and a little bit of silicone caulk. That’s it. And it floats. And I can Kayak around in it. In order to print such large, solid sections of Kayak, I had to modify my home-built, large scale 3D printer to print the parts inside a heated chamber so they would not warp or crack.
read more and view the construction process
Teen Uses CS Skills to Find Way for Government to Save Millions
A middle school student who used computer science to develop a hundred million dollar cost savings plan for the government was featured in an article on CNN.com, “Teen to government: Change your typeface, save millions.” Suvir Mirchandani, 14, was thinking of ways to cut waste and save money at his middle school. He noticed there had been a movement to recycle and use double-sided printing, but what about the ink (which is expensive) on all those pages.
Interested in applying computer science to promote environmental sustainability, Suvir decided he was going to figure out if there was a better way to minimize the constant flurry of paper and ink. So Suvir decided to focus his project on finding ways to cut down on the costly liquid.
German Miniature Railway Wunderland an Engineering Marvel for All Ages
Miniatur Wunderland (German for miniature wonderland) is a model railway attraction in Hamburg, Germany, and one of the largest of its kind in the world, built by the twins Gerrit and Frederik Braun. As of January 2011, the railway consists of 12,000 metres (39,370 ft) of track in HO scale, divided into seven sections: Harz, the fictitious city of Knuffingen, the Alps and Austria, Hamburg, America, Scandinavia, and Switzerland. Of the 6,400 square metres (68,889 sq ft) of floorspace, the model takes 1,150 m2 (12,378 sq ft). By 2020, the exhibit is expected to have reached its final construction phase, including at least a total of ten new sections in a model area of over 2,300 m2 (24,757 sq ft). The next section covering an airport opened in May 2011. The exhibit includes 890 trains made up of over 11,000 carriages, 300,000 lights, 215,000 trees, and 200,000 human figurines.
view it here
How One College Went From 10% Female Computer Science Majors to 40%
In 2006, former ACM president Maria Klawe was appointed Harvey Mudd College president and immediately helped changed the computer science department to try to encourage more female students to enroll in computer science classes. First, the course previously called “Introduction to programming in Java,” was renamed “Creative approaches to problem solving in science and engineering using Python.” The professors also divided the class into groups to separate those with no coding experience from those with some coding experience. As a result, Harvey Mudd’s introductory computer science course almost immediately went from being the most despised required course to the favorite, according to Klawe. Professors also took students to the annual Grace Hopper Conference, which bills itself as a celebration of women in technology.
USC Team Develops Research-Based Educational Games
Researchers at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Game Innovation Lab are developing research-based games for education and social awareness. Referred to as “serious games” or “games for change,” the games are designed to educate as well as entertain players. One of the best-known games to come out of the lab is “Darfur Is Dying,” a narrative-based simulation that puts players into the shoes of a refugee in a camp in the Sudan so they can better understand the crisis in the region, says Game Innovation Lab director Tracy Fullerton. Some of the lab’s games are designed specifically for classrooms, to teach, for example, 12th grade constitutional history.
Adding Coding to the Curriculum
The New York Times
Students worldwide are increasingly familiarizing themselves with coding fundamentals, and proponents say such knowledge feeds into individual students’ future career prospects as well as into their countries’ economic competitiveness and the technology sector’s ability to find qualified employees. Not only does early coding education demystify an intimidating subject, it also contradicts stereotypes of computer scientists as dull, and it demonstrates creativity by showing students it can help them cultivate problem-solving skills and enable them to participate in a world transformed by technology. Codeword’s Roxanne Emadi observes children now routinely use advanced technology, but few are learning how to create it. “Even if it’s something simple, like a kid programming a maze or programming a robot, when you can see your work brought to life, that’s where light bulbs go off,” she says. Britain’s nonprofit Raspberry Pi Foundation promotes computer study in schools by offering lesson plans and other resources to educators, and the foundation’s Clive Beale says the advantage of this approach is to give students hands-on computer programming experience. “Instead of passively using a tablet or a laptop, it’s the first time they’ve made a computer do something,” he notes. A key factor in the recent expansion of coding interest is the availability of programming resources online.
Cyber Security for Your Teenager
The Internet can be a great source of entertainment and knowledge for teens. It is also a way that kids can socialize with friends, even if they no longer live in the same city, state, or even country. Unfortunately, the Internet also has many negative aspects that can be a cause for concern. These negative traits can cause problems that emotionally hinder a child, stunt his or her ability to learn, and may even threaten his or her life. For this reason, parents will not only want to keep their kids safe, but they will want to ensure that their kids understand how to surf the net safely as well.
Computer Coding More in Demand Than Languages, Survey Shows
Software programming should take priority over modern languages in British schools, according to a Code.org survey of more than 2,000 adults across the United Kingdom. Fifty-two percent of participants selected coding as their top choice, compared with 38 percent for French lessons, 32 percent for Spanish, 25 percent for German, and 24 percent for Mandarin Chinese. Code.org offers the Hour of Code, a series of free tutorials designed to show students the basics of programming in an hour. The tutorials feature well-known characters from apps and games. “While we want to demystify the world of coding and make it fun for kids and their parents, the research shows that more and more people are realizing that these skills will be inherent as the digital world becomes the everyday,” says Avid Larizadeh, head of Hour of Code UK. Games Workshop founder Ian Livingstone says programming is no longer a niche skill as computing has become essential knowledge. “Code powers innovation and creativity,” Livingstone says. “Learning to code will enable children to become problem-solvers and digital-makers for jobs that don’t yet exist.”
The 10 Programs With the Highest 20-Year Return
How do you measure the value of a college education? PayScale has the salary data to rank hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities based on total cost and alumni earnings. Find the best returns on investment by school type, location, major and more. The report finds nine of the 10 most lucrative degrees in America are in computer science programs at elite colleges. No degree in America is more valuable than a computer-science major at Stanford, Columbia, or Berkeley.
Barbara Ericson Explains Why Aren’t More Girls Interested in Computer Science?
In an interview on HLN Weekend Express, Barbara Ericson, director of computer outreach at the Georgia Institute of Technology, discusses the alarming findings of a recent study on girls in computer science. The study found that boys outnumber girls in high school Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science classes four to one. In addition, no girls took the AP Computer Science test in Mississippi, Montana, and Wyoming, and the highest percentage of girls taking the test in any state was 29 percent for Tennessee. Computer science is an elective, and Ericson sees that as contributing to the gender gap in participation. She cites stereotypes that discourage girls and the abstract, individualized nature of computer science classwork as other reasons. Girls tend to prefer more practical and social activities, Ericson says. One way to help close the gender gap is to make computer science a core requirement. Ericson also suggests training more teachers, which would provide greater access for students.
The First Woman to Get a Ph.D. in Computer Science From MIT
Irene Greif, who in 1975 became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founded the research field of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). Recently retired from IBM, Greif now wants to encourage young women to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. As a researcher, Greif says she “moved from these very mathematically oriented computer science areas to much more people-oriented work–office automation and human-computer interface and so on.” In the 1980s, she launched the CSCW field, which she describes as “getting a set of people together across disciplines who would look at social systems and computer systems at the same time.” Working in office automation, Greif says she learned that making processes too invisible can damage the social aspects that help advance work.
Georgia Joins Fellowship to Bolster STEM Teacher Education
Georgia will participate in the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship Program, a national initiative that seeks to increase the number of teachers with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the secondary-school level. Columbus State University, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, Mercer University, and Piedmont College will develop a model master’s-level teacher preparation program that offers fellows a year-long experience in local school classrooms. The institutions will receive $400,000 in matching grants to develop programs based on standards set by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Fellows will receive $30,000 stipends to use during the master’s program, and they must commit to teach in a high-need urban or rural school in the state for three years, with ongoing mentoring.
Meet Oppia, Google’s New Open Source Project That Allows Anyone to Create an Interactive Learning Experience
Google has launched Oppia, an online, open source education project that enables users to develop interactive activities for educational purposes. As educational content is increasingly delivered via video and short message service, Google says it often lacks opportunities for interactivity, dialogue, and feedback. Oppia will serve as a framework to enable anyone to quickly create interactive learning experiences and add them to their site. Google calls Oppia a “smart feedback system” that asks the learner questions and adjusts instruction based on responses. In addition, Oppia collects information on learner interaction and content provided, which is shared with content creators to enable them to refine lessons. Based on an extensible framework, Oppia allows developers to add their own inputs and extend the range of potential formats and response types that are compatible with the system.
Photos; The Women Who Created the Technology Industry
Special thanks to June Clarke for this contribution.
The first computer programmers and most celebrated mathematicians throughout history were women. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are the oft-forgotten, influential tech pioneers. In this photo from 1946, two of the first programmers, Esther Gerston and Gloria Gordon work with the ENIAC computer.
Women Stars in Video Game Industry
Huffington Blog Post
The Los Angeles Times recently had a major business story about a woman named Shannon Studstill, the studio chief at Sony Santa Monica Studio, a video-game producer and incubator. As I read the story, I thought maybe — just maybe — women are getting in on the ground floor of a growing business in the world of technology. Not that there a lot of them.
The article points to the fact that, in 2012, only 4 percent of the 4000 video game developers were women. But women make up 25 percent of the producers (“though they make less than their male counterparts”), said the LA Times, citing Game Developer Magazine.
Help Code.org Improve Error Messages
Code.org is trying to improve the messages that a student gets when they write an incorrect program on their site (learn.code.org). Currently, the messages aren’t so helpful, like “You are using all of the necessary types of blocks, but try using more of these types of blocks to complete this puzzle.” Co-founder and CEO, Hadi Partovi, made a video about how to use their feedback message system (code.org/hints). Watch the video and then follow the instructions below the video on that page to gain access to their system (getting an account at learn.code.org and filling out a Google form). They will send you an email once you have access to our system. Code.org is reaching out to YOU to help try out their feedback message system. Please take some time and write some feedback messages so students can get useful messages and feel more confident in continuing to learn about computer science.
Computer Science Professor Tony Morelli Creates Games for Disabled Children
Central Michigan Life
Central Michigan University (CMU) professor Anthony Morelli has developed software that encourages blind people to exercise using the PlayStation Move, Xbox Kinect, and Nintendo Wii. “Kids that are blind are generally more obese or out of shape because things such as going running can be a safety issue,” Morelli says. “I wanted to create something that would be accessible to them and allow them to be active in a safe environment.” The software uses sounds and vibrations to indicate to players how to move. The games were tested at Camp Abilities, a weeklong camp for children who are deaf, visually impaired, or deafblind, to measure a player’s heart rate and improve other areas, such as balance. Morelli developed the software while at Purdue University, and has since launched vifit.org, a website that enables free access to the games.
HP Launching New Scholarship Program for Women in Information Security
Women interested in the theory and practice of cybersecurity can now turn to a new scholarship program launched by Hewlett-Packard (HP) to support their studies. The Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS) program will grant up to $250,000 to academic institutions around the world for the purpose of curating course content about the fundamentals of information technology security. SWSIS will provide scholarships worth up to $10,000 a year, with a ceiling of $20,000 total over a two-year period. Scholarship winners also will be able to intern at HP, but this is not mandatory. The fund can help bring new talent into the field and support the growth of security careers, according to HP’s Art Gilliland. “The security industry has a pressing need for skilled security talent that can function fluidly in today’s environment,” Gilliland says.
Lawmakers are Looking for Moore Computer Science Instructors in California Schools
Legislation being introduced in Sacramento could significantly boost the number of computer science courses offered in California. There is a growing concern that California students don’t have the computer science skills necessary to thrive in the modern workforce. A report released by the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) Education Policy Committee, entitled: Rebooting the Pathway to Success: Preparing Students for Computing Workforce Needs in the United States calls on education and business leaders and public policy officials in every state to take immediate action aimed at filling the pipeline of qualified students pursuing computing and related degrees, and to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. The report provides recommendations to help these leaders join together to create a comprehensive plan that addresses K-12 computer science education and that aligns state policy, programs, and resources to implement these efforts. Julie Flapan, Executive Director of the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS), is working closely with Code.org, Technet, Microsoft, Google and others to advance computer science education in California.
School Libraries in the Digital Age: New Report Reveals Major Shifts in Profession in Wake of Common Core
As Common Core and digital instruction take center stage in our nation’s districts, school libraries have become a central hub of technology and training, according to a new report from MDR’s EdNET Insight service that explores the changing role of the K-12 librarian/media specialist. The research analyzes data from 1,200 survey responses and personal interviews with librarians, media specialists, publishers, and industry leaders. It describes the growing responsibilities of today’s evolving library media professionals, including their collaborating with teachers on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The in-depth research findings are presented in the 35-page report, “School Libraries in the Digital Age: The Changing Role of Media Specialists in the Era of Technology and the Common Core,” and was written by education industry consultant, Neal Goff, who brings 25 years of experience in library, school, and consumer publishing to his analysis.
Lego Robot Shatters Rubik’s Cube Record
Cubestormer 3, a robot built with Legos and powered by a smartphone, shattered its predecessor’s record over the weekend, solving the iconic ’80s puzzle in just over 3.5 seconds. The lightning-quick feat, pulled off Saturday at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, UK, shaved nearly two seconds off the former Guinness-recognized world record of 5.27 seconds, accomplished by the same team’s Cubestormer 2. That mark narrowly bested the best human time of 5.5 seconds, set by Mats Valk of the Netherlands last year. “We knew Cubestormer 3 had the potential to beat the existing record, but with the robot performing physical operations quicker than the human eye can see, there’s always an element of risk,” said David Gilday, who built the robots along with co-inventor Mike Dobson.
The Largest and Best High School Hackathon Ever Held
More than 700 students from over 50 high schools participated in a 24-hour hackathon during the first weekend in March in San Jose, California. Another 300 high school students participated remotely. The event, named “HSHacks,” was conceived organized and funded by high school students through sponsorships and through the generosity of eBay who provided the event venue free of cost at its San Jose headquarters. Staff from Microsoft was on hand to provide workshops for students at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. Students self-organized into working teams to develop ideas that would bring value to technology users or solve problems. For 24 hours the teams worked through the night to build apps and games to win prizes provided by the many event sponsors. California schools are falling behind other states in both its use of technology in the classroom and the courses offered. At the same time, computing jobs are growing at 4.3 times the state average. According to the Conference Board and the National Science Foundation, as of December 2013, there are 77,309 open computing jobs in California but only 4,324 computer science graduates. In states where computer science counts as an academic class, 50 percent more students enroll than in states where it is treated as an elective.
Consortium Aims to Boost Minority Faculty in STEM Fields
The University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the California Institute of Technology have formed the California Alliance for Graduate Education and Professoriate, a partnership that aims to solve the problem of having too few minority Ph.D. students in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The group launched the initiative with a $2.2-million U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to provide increased diversity in mathematics, physical science, and computer science. Together, the four schools are creating a new, cross-institutional community of underrepresented minority Ph.D. students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty members. The alliance “draws on the strength of the institutions involved and is developing a model for moving the needle in this area,” says NSF program director Mark Leddy.
President Obama Honors Exemplary Math and Science Teachers
Teachers know something about snow days. A snow and ice storm hit Washington, D.C., as about 100 science and mathematics teachers arrived here on March 2. The next day, they traveled by Metro and by foot through heavy snow to the White House, where they met with the President, the pinnacle of a three-day visit to the nation’s capital.
They are winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the U.S. government’s highest honor for K-12 math and science teachers. Administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF), this recognition offers each awardee $10,000, along with the trip to Washington and the chance to network with government and education leaders, policy makers and each other.
Inside Higher Ed
Presenters at this year’s Association of International Education Administrators conference described a pair of programs in which students double major in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field and a foreign language. Currently in its third year is Northern Arizona University’s Global Science and Engineering Program, a five-year initiative in which students earn both a B.S. in a STEM discipline and a B.A. in a foreign language. Students take courses in both the language and the STEM field during their freshman year, while their fourth year is spent abroad before returning to campus for the final year. “We try hard not to sell it as an elite program because I think that kind of language is a language of exclusion and we want to have as many students participate in the program as possible,” says Northern Arizona’s Harvey Charles.
The Joy of Teaching Computer Science in the Age of Facebook
In an interview, Stanford University professor Mehran Sahami discussed changes in computer science education over the past three decades. He says students today understand computing’s potential and are technology consumers, whereas in the past the average person did not have a computer in their house. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, students did not view computer science as a field full of job opportunities, and entered the discipline only because of a deep interest in the subject, Sahami says. At that time, a single set of requirements existed for all computer science majors. Today, the field has broadened and numerous subareas such as human-computer interaction and computational biology have emerged. Although the number of students enrolling in computer science dropped significantly from 2000 to 2005 due to the dot-com bubble burst, computer science enrollment is now increasing as the economy turns around and perceptions change about high-tech opportunities. “When people see companies like Google and Facebook being founded by relatively young people, they feel empowered and think: ‘I can do that,'” Sahami says. ”
How Hackathons Can Become More Female-Friendly
Hackathons intended to encourage engagement with technology appear to not be attracting participation from women, who are already underrepresented in technology fields. Anecdotal evidence suggests women sometimes feel they do not fit in at hackathons, and they are noticed as female participants rather than for their work. In addition, some female programmers lack the confidence to compete with men in a high-profile hackathon environment. Many women, like some of their male counterparts, do not want to participate in overnight coding events because of time limitations and family responsibilities. Experts say hackathon organizers can take steps to encourage more women to participate. For example, a pre-registration period for women can make them feel more comfortable participating in an event, says Google’s Amy Quispe, who organized hackathons as a student at Carnegie Mellon University. Organizers can minimize potential intimidation by not focusing on the competition aspect of an event.
Coding for a Cause
Sneha Jayaprakash, a sophomore at UC San Diego, is passionate about two things: computer science and social change. As part of the 2013 Microsoft YouthSpark Challenge for Change contest, she developed a winning proposal for a mobile app to engage students with volunteerism and social issues—and received a prize of $2,500 to get the project going. Now, with an additional $10,000 awarded by the Microsoft Imagine Fund last month, Jayaprakash is getting the opportunity to turn her idea into a successful startup. Named Bystanders to Upstanders (B2U), Jayaprakash’s app presents simple, service-related challenges for users to complete in order to earn rewards. The challenges are personalized to the interests and skills of the participant. In addition, users can compete with their friends and use their earned points to make real donations to a variety of nonprofits.
Revamped Computer Science Classes Attracting More Girls
San Francisco Chronicle
A growing number of universities are overhauling their computer science courses to attract more women, and the efforts appear to be working. Last spring, a University of California, Berkeley introductory computer science class enrolled more women than men for the first time. Berkeley professor Dan Garcia says he broadened the class’ scope beyond programming to focus on the impact and relevance of computing in the world, and included pair exercises. Although Garcia says the course redesign was not exclusively for the purpose of drawing greater female participation, the changes removed some of the aspects of computer science that tend to repel women. As universities strive to draw more women into technology fields, they walk a fine line of trying to appeal without diminishing the technical aspects of a subject or making women feel targeted. A 2012 University of Michigan study found that gender-neutral role models were actually more effective than feminine role models in capturing the interest of middle school girls in science and math fields. Women appear to misperceive computer science, according to a 2008 ACM study, which found college-bound girls associated computing with words such as “typing,” “math,” and “boredom.” However, many women change their notions about computer science after studying the subject, particularly when exposed to its creative aspects and ability to impact the world.
Google Debuts Online Education Tool Oppia to Let Anyone Create Interactive Activities for Teaching Others
Google launched a new online education tool called Oppia, currently an open source project with the goal of making it easy for anyone to create online interactive activities that others can learn from. Called explorations, these activities can be built and contributed to by multiple people from around the world through a Web interface, without any programming required.
MOOC: Try, Try Again
Inside Higher Ed
Massive open online course (MOOC) instructors say that after two years of experimentation with mixed success, some MOOCs are beginning to reach their potential. For example, Stanford University researcher Keith Devlin recently launched the fourth iteration of his “Introduction to Mathematical Thinking” MOOC, and says the number of students remaining in the course through the first and second weeks has increased each time it has been offered. Although the course’s content has remained the same, Devlin says he changed the experience of taking the MOOC. Devlin modeled his changes on massively multiplayer online role-playing games that require players to persevere through repetitious tasks and enter into collaborations to earn rewards. The success of these games is due to the fact that they encourage community building, says Devlin, who has sought to replicate that in his course’s discussion forum.
Computer Science for Non-Majors
Computing Community Consortium
As interest in computer science grows among non-majors, many students wish to continue beyond introductory courses, creating an ideal opportunity to develop new courses and curricula for non-majors, writes Harvey Mudd College computer science professor and department chair Ran Libeskind-Hadas. He says college students across all disciplines realize that all well-educated people need an understanding of computing as it becomes more ubiquitous, and that computing skills are likely to be beneficial in any field. Libeskind-Hadas says courses for non-majors should cover programming at a “high level of abstraction,” with a focus on understanding the basics of everyday software. In addition, non-majors should be exposed to a wide range of applications, either across many fields or in one specific discipline, depending on course design.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Time Warner Cable Partner to Spark Youth Interest in STEM
Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) today announced details of a new partnership designed to help address America’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). TWC, as part of its Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) initiative, will provide $500,000 in cash and in-kind support to help BGCA engage and inspire youth around the country to become interested in STEM subjects. The $500,000 in support from TWC will enable BGCA to launch a new Do-It-Yourself (DIY) STEM program for Boys & Girls Clubs around the country. Available for all Clubs this summer, the DIY STEM program curriculum will engage Club youth ages 10 to 18 in a different strand of STEM—from robotics to electrodynamic propulsion—each week. Aligning to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the project-based STEM activities will provide opportunities for critical thinking and peer exchange.
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Keeping Women in High-Tech Fields Is Big Challenge, Report Finds
The Washington Post
A recent Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) report found U.S. women working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are 45 percent more likely than their male peers to leave the industry within a year. The study also found that about 33 percent of STEM leaders reported a woman would never reach the top position in their companies. “Even the senior guys who are in a position to make change for the women in their company don’t feel like they can do it,” says CTI’s Laura Sherbin. The survey questioned 5,685 college-educated adults, 2,349 of whom were women, with experience in a private-sector science, engineering, or technology company. The study found gender bias underpins why women either do not think they can get ahead or are choosing to leave their organizations.
UTeach STEM Teacher Prep Program Expands With $22.5-Million Grant
Drexel University, Florida International University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the University of Maryland, College Park will implement the UTeach program in the fall of 2014. UTeach recruits math, science, and computer science students and prepares them to teach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at the secondary school level. Participants in the program can earn a teaching certificate without adding time or cost to their four-year STEM degree program. Each university will receive a $1.45-million grant to cover the cost of implementing the program over a five-year period. Developed first at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997, UTeach partnered with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) in 2008 to expand the program. NMSI says UTeach will produce more than 9,000 math and science teachers by 2020. Five more universities will join in 2015, which will bring the total number implementing UTeach to 45. A $22.5-million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has made the expansion possible.
75 Students from 62 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Named 2014 HBCU All-Stars
The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCU) today announced its first class of HBCU All-Stars, recognizing 75 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement. Currently enrolled at 62 HBCUs, the All-Stars were selected from 445 students who submitted completed applications that included a transcript, resume, essay, and recommendation. “Engaging with the next generation of leaders who will graduate from HBCUs and go on to make meaningful contributions to society is crucial to the success of our community, our country and our global competitiveness,” said George Cooper, executive director of the WHIHBCUs. “It is a privilege to announce these 75 students who have demonstrated a commitment to both their own academic achievement and making a difference in their communities, and we look forward to working with them as partners in advancing President Obama’s college completion goal.” Over the course of the next year, the HBCU All-Stars will serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative by provide outreach and communication with their fellow students about the value of education and the Initiative as a networking resource. Through social media and their relationships with community-based organizations, the All-Stars will share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential. In addition, the 45 female and 30 male All-Stars will participate in regional events and web chats with Ivory Toldson, deputy director of the WHIHBCUs, other Initiative staff and professionals from a wide range of disciplines. They will also have opportunities to engage with other scholars to showcase individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.
More information about the activities of the 75 HBCU All-Stars will be provided in the coming months as they carry out their role as ambassadors of the White House Initiative on Historically Black colleges and Universities.
Historical NASA Space Artifacts Available for Educational Use
NASA invites eligible U.S. educational institutions, museums and other organizations to screen and request historical artifacts of significance to spaceflight. This is the 21st screening of artifacts since 2009. Eligible schools, universities, museums, libraries and planetariums may view the artifacts and request specific items through March 17, 2014. Online registrations should include an assigned Department of Education number. Registration also can be made through the State Agency for Surplus Property (SASP) office in their state. The artifacts are free of charge and are offered “as-is.” Organizations must cover shipping costs and any handling fees. Shipping fees on smaller items will be relatively inexpensive, while larger items may involve extensive disassembly, preparation, shipping and reassembly costs. NASA will work closely with eligible organizations to address any unique handling costs. Questions about this opportunity should be directed to GSAXcessHelp@gsa.gov.
instructions, registration, & view and make requests for artifacts online
Chart: The top tech companies for internships
It’s that time of year when college students start perusing internship opportunities. And to make the process a bit easier, Glassdoor has released a list of the 25 highest rated companies which are hiring interns this year. It also put together the map above showing where internships are geographically located right now. Thirteen tech companies make the list, including Facebook and Google which led the group. (Of course, Google should be in the mix given that its internship program was the source of a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson). Three Seattle companies made the list: Microsoft (#7), Nordstrom (#24) and Amazon (#25). The list was created based on intern feedback over the past year.
App Inventor Launches Second Iteration
The MIT App Inventor is the basis for more than 3 million projects, and its second iteration was released late last year in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week. The App Inventor is a joint effort of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and it enables anyone to construct an Android phone app using a Web browser and either a connected phone or an emulator. “It’s huge for anyone with a smartphone who has wanted to use some app but has not been able to find it,” notes the MIT Center for Mobile Learning’s Josh Sheldon. App Inventor 2 trumps the previous version by being completely operable from the browser, and no longer requiring users to install and run a Java file. Whereas App Inventor 1 currently has 1.3 million users who have built 3.2 million apps with it, App Inventor 2 has 100,000 users who have built 140,000 apps, according to the Center for Mobile Learning’s Hal Abelson.
Q&A: Creating Access to STEM Education for Students of Color
New America Media
In an interview, Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI) director Sumaiya Talukdar discusses the Bay Area nonprofit’s efforts to help students of color pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). LPFI offers low-income students of color a three-year summer program beginning in ninth grade through which they take math and science courses at Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Southern California, and University of California, Los Angeles. Students who participate in the program go on to become STEM majors in college at twice the national average rate. LPFI is working to increase computer science instruction in the Oakland Unified School District, and is organizing hackathons to raise student interest in the subject. Talukdar says that in the hackathons, students with minimal experience created mobile apps to address challenges in their community, with impressive results. “These are not students that traditionally have access to computer science but could really utilize computer science to help their communities or themselves in some way,” she says. “Silicon Valley wants diverse candidates because diverse candidates think of diverse ideas and solutions.” Talukdar says the greatest challenge in convincing students that they can participate in computer science is the lack of early exposure to technology.
Tech Shift: More Women in Computer Science Classes
Peering out from behind the cool glow of iPads and MacBook Pros, some students sit with rapt attention. A few appear lost in daydreams, or perhaps just lost. At least two cruise Facebook. It is a predictable college scene, but this Berkeley computer science class is at the vanguard of a tech world shift. The class has 106 women and 104 men. The gender flip first occurred last spring. It was the first time since at least 1993 – as far back as university enrollment records are digitized – that more women enrolled in an introductory computer science course. It was likely the first time ever. It’s a small but a significant benchmark. Male computer science majors still far outnumber female, but Professor Dan Garcia’s class is a sign that efforts to attract more women to a field where they have always been vastly underrepresented are working.
SUSAN DAVIS OPTS IN – San Diego Students Can Now Participate in the U.S. House of Representatives App Challenge
Beginning on February 1st, the U.S. House of Representatives launched the first annual Congressional Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academic Competition, the “House App Challenge.” This new competition is designed to engage student’s creativity and encourage their participation in STEM education fields. Established by Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013, this competition is a nationwide event that allows students from across the country to compete by creating and exhibiting their software application, or “app,” for mobile, tablet, or computer devices on a platform of their choice. Throughout the completion period, participating students will be provided opportunities to engage with various STEM educational partners located throughout the community to mentor and assist them with their app development.
learn more about the App Challenge
SDSC Announces 2014 Internship Opportunities for High School Students
The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, will once again offer its Research Experience for High School Students (REHS) summer program, in which students will be integrated into multidisciplinary research teams to help them gain experience in particular areas of computational research. Now expanded to eight weeks, the program will be held June 23 through August 15, 2014 at SDSC. Internship hours, which typically range from 15 to 25 hours a week, will be coordinated with SDSC principal investigators who serve as mentors in the program. Specific research opportunities will be posted to the SDSC Education website on February 18. The application deadline for students is March 14, with final PI-student selections to be completed by April 15.
Netflix-Like Algorithm Drives New College-Finding Tool
Chronicle of Higher Education
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities computer science doctoral student Daniel Jarratt has developed a recommendation algorithm to help guide high school students in their choice of colleges. Using data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Jarratt studied which data to use to compare institutions and arrived at 80 variables, ranging from the number of National Merit Scholars to the types of majors. He then wrote an algorithm that compares the attributes of a collection of colleges and points to other, similar institutions. “We’re using the characteristics of colleges to get at the nascent preferences of students,” Jarratt says. The algorithm has been incorporated into the PossibilityU website, which helps high school students with their college choice. PossibilityU takes three colleges that a student is interested in and generates a list of 10 similar colleges to consider. In addition, PossibilityU asks students to provide data about themselves, such as grade-point average and standardized test scores, to predict a student’s chances of being admitted to and receiving merit-based financial aid at specific schools.
Getting Ready for Computer-based Assessments
State Superintendent Tom Torlakson released information today to help schools prepare to field test computer-based assessments in California’s schools. Schools and students who participate in field testing will be better prepared to take, and do well on, the test next year. The California Department of Education is providing two videos to inform high school and middle school students about the upcoming test and to emphasize the important role they’re playing in helping prepare the operational tests for the 2014-15 school year. These videos are posted at the following links:
– High school video: http://youtu.be/DXXd451e580
– Middle school video: http://youtu.be/YKerb7NsDUE
Field testing begins March 18 and runs through June 6.
NCWIT and Microsoft Research Announce Winners of Technology Higher Education Seed Fund Award
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and Microsoft Research announce the winners of the NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund, which provides U.S. academic institutions with start-up funds to develop and implement initiatives that recruit and retain women in computing and technology fields of study. Since 2007, NCWIT and Microsoft Research have awarded $465,450 in funding to 39 universities and colleges over 10 funding rounds. “We know to solve the world’s most difficult challenges we need diverse teams,” said Rane Johnson-Stempson Principal research Director At Microsoft Research. “This is why Microsoft is pleased to support the NCWIT Seed Fund to encourage more effective ways of recruitment and retention of women at college-level computing and technology programs.”
Energy Companies Aim to Hire More Women Amid Industry Boom
When Debbie Settoon landed her first job as a project engineer at a small New Orleans oil and gas drilling company in 1979 she quickly learned that if she wanted to get anywhere in her industry she needed to learn how to curse like a sailor. Or like an oil and gas man, for that matter. Settoon was one of only a handful of women who worked for the company at the time. Being the only woman in the room wasn’t anything new. Settoon was always one of two or three female students in a sea of male students that filled the auditoriums when she studied civil engineering at the University of New Orleans.
Gender Bias in Tech Professions Called a Reality
Investor’s Business Daily
Although the technology industry is often a world leader and innovator, it is behind the times in terms of gender equality in the workplace, according to Stanford Law School fellow Vivek Wadhwa. “Things overall are moving in the right direction, except for pockets of resistance in the tech world,” says Wadhwa, who plans to publish research about the experiences of 500 women in tech jobs. Women held 57.2 percent of U.S. professional occupations in 2012, according to Department of Labor statistics. However, women account for just 25.6 percent of workers in what the agency calls “computer and mathematical occupations,” according to the report. Gender bias in tech is not an issue of overt discrimination, but more about underrepresentation and subtle biases, says the National Center for Women & Information Technology’s Catherine Ashcraft.
Successful ‘Hour of Code’ Computer Tutorials Prompt Effort to Change School Policies
The Washington Post
The success of the Hour of Code initiative has motivated founders Hadi Partovi and Ali Partovi to harness the momentum and use it to expand computer science education in elementary and secondary schools. More than 20 million people around the world took part in the Hour of Code, 17 million of them in the United States, half of which were female. The Hour of Code was inspired by the fact that of the U.S.’s 42,000 schools, only about 3,400 offer computer science classes. “There’s an assumption because students are using this technology, they have the knowledge to build this technology, and they don’t,” says Computer Science Teachers Association executive director Chris Stephenson. The Partovi brothers raised $10 million to create code.org, a nonprofit organization aimed at changing policy on the federal, state, and local levels to expand access to computer science in K-12.
We May Be 100 Years Behind in Making Computing Education Accessible to All
Just how far behind other STEM disciplines are we in computing education? Unlike mathematics and the sciences, we don’t have teachers in every school. We don’t have a wide range of well-defined, standards-based curricula for elementary and primary levels with supportive materials available to every teacher. In the United States, there are few pre-service teacher professional development programs available at Schools of Education, and few states can offer a credential or license to teach that says Computer Science teacher. How long does it take to build up all that stuff?
No Girls, Blacks, or Hispanics Take AP Computer Science Exam in Some States
No female, African American, or Hispanic students took the Advanced Placement (AP) computer science exam in some states in 2013, according to Georgia Institute of Technology computing outreach director Barbara Ericson, who compiled state comparisons of College Board data. In Mississippi and Montana, no students in any of the three categories took the AP computer science exam last year, although the College Board notes that Mississippi only administered one of the exams and Montana only administered 11. Eleven states had no African-American students taking the exam, and eight states had no Hispanic students taking the test. Among the 30,000 students who took the exam last year, less than 20 percent were female, about 3 percent were African American, and 8 percent were Hispanic, according to the College Board website. Females, African Americans, and Hispanics also had lower pass rates than white males on the exam, Ericson says. AP computer science courses “are more prevalent in suburban and private schools than in urban, poor schools,” says Ericson, noting that only 17 states currently accept computer science as a core math or science credit. The College Board is committed to increasing access to rigorous computing courses and is working with national organizations, nonprofits, and the private sector to expand access, says spokesperson Deborah Davis.
Girls Can Build
Girls Can Build is a curriculum designed specifically for girls to get them excited about building. The PCS Edventures BrickLab is used to promote hands-on learning and the development of fine motor skills. Girls in grades K-2 and 3-5 gain confidence in building and working with peers through participation in integrated STEM content along with language arts and social studies topics.
Computers Are The Future, But Does Everyone Need To Code?
Republicans and Democrats don’t see eye-to-eye on much these days, but there is one aspect of the future that they can agree on: “Becoming literate in code is as essential to being literate in language and math,” says House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia.
President Obama agrees: “Computers are going to be a big part of your future,” he predicts. Computer programmers and software developers already make more money than the average American — and while many jobs aren’t coming back, the job outlook for programmers is great. Cantor says that coding is “the necessary tool of this century.” It’s an interesting idea, but how true is it? Is coding really for everyone?
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Preview of Writing Code for Future
About 200 schools in Massachusetts participated in the Hour of Code, a nationwide campaign sponsored by Code.org aimed at introducing millions of students to programming. “We think that computer science is emerging as a 21st-century literacy,” says Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) executive director Jim Stanton. “Computer science provides the tools to become creators of technology, and we think that’s where there is huge excitement.” The Hour of Code was designed to make computer science less intimidating by guiding students through introductory coding tutorials. The event took place during the recent Computer Science Education Week, and introduced approximately 15 million students in 170 countries to basic coding. In addition, Computer Science Education Week organizers said more girls participated in computer science in U.S. schools during the event than in the last 70 years. Nine out of 10 schools do not offer programming courses, despite the fact that jobs in computer-related fields are predicted to outnumber students by 1 million by 2020, according to Code.org.
Code.org YEAR IN REVIEW: In One Month, 500,000 Students Sign Up for Computer Science 101 Course
Hadi Partovi, a longtime Seattle entrepreneur who founded Code.org this past January with his brother, Ali, wrote up a 2013 recap on Wednesday that outlined the organization’s accomplishments thus far. One particular stat was impressive: In just one month after Code.org launched its free 20-hour intro to computer science course last month, 10,000 teachers have signed up for program — that’s about 500,000 new students now learning how to develop. Partovi estimates that before Dec. 9, there were 13,000 teachers in the U.S. helping students learn about computer science. That means Code.org has technically almost doubled the amount of computer science learning in the country.
Students Can Create Animations of Garfield the Cat With New Version of Carnegie Mellon’s Alice Software
Carnegie Mellon News
Carnegie Mellon University recently released version 2.4 of the Alice Project, free educational programming software that enables beginners to create animations using a simple drag-and-drop interface to select character objects, props, and scenes from a gallery of three-dimensional models. Alice 2.4 is geared toward middle and high school students, and features all of the popular characters from the Garfield comic strip, including Garfield, Odie, Jon, and Nermel. The developers say the Alice materials eventually also will be accessible through the Professor Garfield Web portal, which provides a variety of educational games and materials. “Alice is used in classrooms around the globe, so we appreciate the influence an internationally recognized character such as Garfield has on school children,” says Alice Project director Wanda Dann. She notes that Alice currently is used in more than 15 percent of colleges and universities and has become a popular teaching tool in secondary schools.
New York Magazine
As the importance of programming as a life skill grows, parents are beginning to seek coding education for their children. Some parents are hiring tutors to teach their children programming, both as a strategically valuable skill and as an intellectual exercise. “Coding is absolutely a question of literacy,” says Georgia Institute of Technology professor Mark Guzdial. “Those who don’t have access to this kind of education are going to be missing a core skill.” Concerns about economic inequality are rising as more affluent families pay for coding opportunities that lower-income families cannot afford. “I think this is the most important issue domestically. It’s frightening. Parents who have money are pushing their kids to learn coding,” says Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani. “Kids whose parents don’t have money are being left behind.” Even as the tech industry forecasts a shortfall of 1 million workers by 2020, 90 percent of U.S. high schools do not offer computer programming.
Spelman College Charts a New Path by Encouraging Women in STEM Studies
In an interview, Spelman College president Beverly Daniel Tatum discussed the move by the historically black women’s liberal arts college to shift its focus towards science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Tatum recently won the Carnegie Corporation’s annual Academic Leadership Award for her efforts to encourage women to pursue STEM careers and for her decision to replace intercollegiate sports with wellness activities. “A third of our students are STEM majors,” Tatum says. “And we want to [ensure] that they can move into fields where they are underrepresented and make a difference to our economy and to our nation.” Although Spelman remains a traditional liberal arts college, a third of the school’s incoming students want to pursue science. “They may be thinking about health careers initially. But once they start to explore biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, engineering, they see a wider range of options,” Tatum says.
All-Girls STEM Charter Could Open In 2015
News of St. Louis
Six years ago Mary Stillman attended a lecture by Ann Tisch at Washington University. “That was my ah-ha moment,” Stillman recalls. “Here she is talking about this group of public schools for girls who wouldn’t otherwise have this model of education and it’s working.” Tisch is the founder of the Young Women’s Leadership Network, which operates a network of all-girls public schools and boasts a 93 percent graduation rate at its flagship institution in East Harlem.
Big Race, Gender Gaps In Participation On AP Computer Science Exam
A new analysis of test-taking data finds that in Mississippi and Montana, no female, African American, or Hispanic students took the Advanced Placement exam in computer science. In fact, no African-American students took the exam in a total of 11 states, and no Hispanic students took it in eight states, according to state comparisons of College Board data compiled by Barbara Ericson, the director of computing outreach and a senior research scientist at Georgia Tech. The College Board, which oversees AP, notes on its website that in 2013 about 30,000 students total took the AP exam for computer science, a course in which students learn to design and use computer programs. Less than 20 percent of those students were female, about 3 percent were African American, and 8 percent were Hispanic (combined totals of Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and other Hispanic).
Too Few Women in Fed Tech Jobs; Too Many Challenges for Them
Women remain underrepresented in information technology (IT) and other science and math fields, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Women’s Work Group report. For example, the report found that women account for just 31 percent of federal IT positions. The gender disparities in the federal government are in part a result of women earning substantially fewer degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. “The lower percentage of women receiving STEM degrees results in substantially fewer women than men available in the applicant pool to recruit to federal STEM positions, which presents a formidable challenge to efforts to increase women’s representation in federal STEM occupations,” the EEOC report says. In addition, the report notes that even for women who hold STEM-related degrees, many still encounter challenges in being hired, promoted, and supported compared to their male colleagues. The report recommends that agencies increase scholarship programs and partnerships with universities to stimulate STEM interest, create internship programs that encourage the participation of women, and provide STEM employees with mentors.
Klobuchar Bill Would Expand STEM Across the Country
Winona Daily News
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has introduced a bill that would expand STEM education nationwide by creating 100 high schools, adding computer-science teachers and building new opportunities for undergraduate research. Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, announced the legislation Wednesday. The idea, she said, is to give students more opportunities to succeed in an increasingly skilled and specialized workforce while making the country’s economy more competitive. “From the pacemaker to the Post-it Note, Minnesota has always led the way in creating the innovative products that fuel our economy,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “This legislation ensures that our businesses can invest in research and our workers have the skills they need to thrive in today’s competitive global economy.”