Strengthening Computer Science Education

Many call our students digital natives, but they often lack a basic understanding of the fundamentals of computer science that support this age of rapid technology growth. Learn how enabling students to understand computer science concepts does not require great expense in either equipment or professional development.

Our schools have not been doing an adequate job of preparing our children for their future in technology. Students may easily master using the technology devices in their grasp, but they often have no clue how to create their own technology tools. There is a crisis in computer science education both in quality and access. The result of this crisis is that women and minorities are missing opportunities to advance academically and economically in a field whose employment potential far exceeds the number of students preparing for it. In addition, this lack of diversity in technology means that we will all miss out on innovations that are relevant and usable by a wider range of people.

In this session, I will cover free tools that are very user-friendly, yet comprehensive, in introducing students to the underlying concepts of computer science: Computer Science Unplugged, an online site and book, which provides unplugged activities, as well as NetLogo from NorthWestern, Scratch from MIT and Alice from Carnegie Melon which are programming tools.