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January 31, 2006

New Brochure for Policy Makers on CS Education Needs

CSTA has issued a new policy brochure that aims to alert local, state, and federal policymakers to the fact that Computer Science education in America sorely needs attention, and provides information to help them convey the need for action.

Among the suggestions for policy makers to help communicate the need to improve computer science education are:

* Emphasizing that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills include computer science and not just using computers across the curriculum
* Asking what state and local school authorities are doing to ensure that students are acquiring the technological skills they need to succeed.
* Encouraging students to pursue computer science careers as an important source of the nation's leadership and competitiveness in the global economy.
* Explaining how outsourcing technology jobs can be combated by focusing on the education of future workers.

Policy makers are encouraged to assess the future needs of their states and to ensure that schools of education and on-the-job professional development opportunities are adequately preparing computer science teachers. They are also urged to prepare their communities for future opportunities by pointing to the resources of nonprofit groups like CSTA, that provide curriculum models and other supports to computer science teachers.

The brochures are being distributed through organizations representing policy makers, such as the National Governors Association, and through caucuses and committees of the US Congress and state legislatures that oversee technology education.

Chris Stephenson
Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2006

Cisco Supports Program to Provide IT Careers Information

On Thursday, February 2nd, Junior Achievement and the U.S. Department of Education will kick off National Job Shadow Day 2006 and Cisco is planning a major effort to provide important information about the wide variety of opportunities available in the IT industry.

Cisco Systems is hosting a series of Groundhog Job Shadow Day events across the United States to help young people learn about career opportunities in IT and more than 3,000 students will participate in actvities hosted on Cisco and Cisco Networking Academy campuses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US economy is expected to add 1.5 million computer and information related jobs by 2012, while the country will have only half that many qualified graduates. The growing demand for IT staffing has prompted industry leaders to take proactive measures to ensure a talent pool of IT proficient candidates who are ready to contribute to the global economy.

Cisco kicks off its Job Shadow Day on February 2, in five key sites across the country. Participating cities include Chicago, Atlanta, San Jose, and Raleigh. This is Cisco's fifth year participating in Groundhog Job Shadow Day. The company's goal this year is to host students at more than 100 sites across the United States colleges and high schools participating in the Networking Academy program.

If you would like more information about this program, contact Mike Kelly at michael@nadelphelan.com or call (831) 440-2403.

Posted by cstephenson at 06:36 PM | Comments (3)

January 24, 2006

Introducing The 2006 Project Hoshimi Programming Battle

What is the Project Hoshimi Programming Battle?

The Project Hoshimi Programming Battle is a competition (exclusively for US high school students) that brings together an imaginative background story, comic-style graphics and fun programming challenges allowing students to compete online, with students from all over the country. Student will devise strategies and write code for navigating a team of nanobots through life-saving missions and objectives through a map of the human body.

This is a great opportunity for your students to learn the basics of game programming while further building their programming and problem-solving skills. Students will get the thrill of competing and interacting with students from across the country. We know that as Computer Science teachers, you're always looking for new ways to get and keep students engaged. Whether they compete or not, your students will have lots of fun and learn a lot about things like algorithms and object-oriented design concepts as they work with the Project Hoshimi SDK.

How does the competition work?

Teams of 1-2 students will write programs in Visual Basic 2005 (VB 2005) or Visual C# 2005 (C# 2005) to create an artificial intelligence strategy using the provided Project Hoshimi Software Development Kit (SDK). Once the submission period opens, teams will submit their entries to be scored and ranked (against other entries). Each team entry will be uploaded to a scoring server that will run the executable (DLL) file. The entries will then be ranked highest to lowest based on the success rate of the nanobots performance of prescribed tasks like evading enemies, collecting objects in the map, and achieving the mission objectives. The competition is open to US high school students 14 to 18 only. Each team must have faculty sponsor from their school.

How can you help your students get started?

The Project Hoshimi Programming Battle presents a great opportunity to teach students about game programming concepts like binary trees and min-max. To make it easier to introduce these concepts, we created a set of Teaching Objects that use the Project Hoshimi SDK. Each Teaching Object includes a technical article on the topic (for background), PowerPoint slides, sample code and exercises. You will be able to find the latest Teaching Objects in the MainFunction Project Hoshimi Resources library. All of these Teaching Objects and the Project Hoshimi SDK are compatible with both the full version of Visual Studio and Visual Basic 2005 Express.

Daryll McDade

Posted by cstephenson at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

CS Underwater

Yesterday's GW Hatchet, an independent student newspaper serving The George Washington University community in downtown Washington, D.C. carried an interesting article about the link between the university's Computer Science Department and the U.S. Olympic swim team.

Author Leah Carliner describes an application developed by Professor James Hahn, Chair of the Computer Science Department and graduate students Samir Roy and Jean Honorio that captures a swimmer's movement underwater in three dimensions. This application allows swimmers and their coaches to observe every motion made underwater in order to improve strokes.

While it is not long on technical details, this article provides a nice link between computer science research and practical applications in the real world that might be of interest to students.

Making the connection between impending Olympic fever and computer science may be a good way to demonstrate that there is more to computer science than videogames.

Check out Carliner's article and let us know what you think!

Chris Stephenson
Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2006

CSTA Launches New Virtual Binder

With everything else they have on their plates right now, it is almost impossible for K-12 computing teachers to keep up with all of the research about computer science education that might be relevant to their classroom practices. In fact, just finding material that is relevant to K-12 is a considerable chore.

One of the major benefits of CSTA membership, however, is access to the CSTA virtual binders - a collection of top-notch, classroom relevant articles culled from ACM's huge Digital Library.

So far, dedicated volunteers from the CSTA Board of Directors have put together three binders and the newest one, on Careers, just went live this weekend.

There are now three CSTA virtual binders, each covering a different topic: Careers, Equity, and Teaching Strategies. Each binder provides full-text access to up to 15 articles pulled from the very best professional and educational computer science journals.

CSTA members can access these binders directly from the CSTA website (csta.acm.org) by clicking on K-12 Virtual Binders in the Resources section on the left column. Once you get to the binders page, click on

Login for e-binders

and you can access the binders directly using your ACM Web Account. (CSTA members who have not done sor yet can simply follow the instructions to set up their free ACM Web Account.)

The CSTA Membership Committee, under the direction of Charmaine Bentley, has been spearheading the creation of the virtual binders, and plans are underway for at least three more themed binders to be developed over the next few months. If you have some ideas about good topics for new e-binders, please post a comment here and let us know!

Chris Stephenson
Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 02:54 PM | Comments (1)

January 11, 2006

More Certifcation Insanity

No article in the CSTA Voice has generated more reponse than our article by David Devine on his attempts to become certified as a computer science teacher in Florida. Here is a great letter from another member, Tony Gianquinto, supporting David's exasperating experiences and adding some new twists.


My name is Tony Gianquinto and I teach computers/computer science at a private school in Miami, Florida.

I am sending you this letter in response to the article written by Mr. David M. Devine titled Certifiably Insane that was published in the December 2005 CSTA Voice issue. I too am having an extremely difficult time getting my professional certification in Computer Science from the Florida Department of Education.

I have been teaching for five years and it is incredible what the Bureau of Educator Certification has put me through. I have a Bachelors Degree in Biology from the University of Miami and a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Barry University. Getting my Masters was easier than getting certified from the Florida Department of Education!

Back in June of 2001, the Bureau of Educator Certification sent me a Statement of Status of Eligibility along with a three year temporary certificate. I received the temporary certificate in February of 2002, which now makes it a 2 years and 4 month certificate. They informed me that I met the subject area requirements for Computer Science/(Grades K-12). For them to issue a Professional Educator's Certificate I have to complete the following:

* Achievement of a passing score on the General Knowledge test. It is very similar to the CLAST and consists of four subtests: English Reading, English Language Arts, English Essay, and Math. I took the test and passed

* Demonstration of professional education competence submitted by my employer verifying that I am competent to teach.

* Achievement of a passing score on the professional education subtest of the Florida Teacher Certification Examination. I completed this test and passed.

* Achievement of a passing score on the Computer Science (K-12) subject area examination. Also completed and passed.

* Completion of a Florida approved alternative professional preparation program OR 20 semester hours in education courses to include 6 semester hours covering the sociological and psychological foundations of education. I completed and passed two courses in the above from Miami Dade College.

* 6 semester hours in general methods, curriculum, school administration or school supervision.

* 4 semester hours of teaching computer science in the elementary and secondary school.

* Completing the Practical Teaching Experience requirement by completing 6 semester hours in a college student teaching (internship) program in an elementary or secondary school or two years of full-time teaching experience in an elementary or secondary school.

Two years of my teaching experience was used to satisfy 6 semester hours of college credit in lieu of special methods of teaching computer science in the high school and 3 semester hours of general methods. The remaining three years of teaching experience cannot be used because I have utilized the maximum amount of teaching experience allowed by Florida State Board of Education Rules in this area.

So what's left? My most recent Statement of Status of Eligibility states that I need to complete 3 additional semester hours in general methods, curriculum, school administration or school supervision and 2 semester hours in teaching Computer Science in the elementary school. I believe the 2 credit course is the same course that Mr. Devine states from his article as the Special Methods for Teaching Computer Science K-6 and a class that doesn't exist.

I contacted the Bureau of Educator Certification to find out what to do about the 2 credit class and the response was they don't know and to check with the University of Phoenix online programs. I also asked them why they simply did not just have a 6-12 Computer Science certificate and they said that they do not make the rules. I don't think there is a school in the United States that teaches Computer Science to a child in Kindergarten!

I don't even want to get into how much money I have spent on classes, applications, tests and finger prints.

As you can see, a Masters Degree is easier to obtain!

Tony Gianquinto
CSTA Member

Posted by cstephenson at 09:41 AM | Comments (8)

January 03, 2006

Help Us Identify Contests for Computer Science Students

Some of our members have suggested that a central listing of contests would be very helpful since many teachers use contest participation to motivate and engage students.

We would be happy to collect and disseminate this information but we need your help in identifying contests that already exist at the state, regional, national, and international level for high school computer science students. This would include contests in all related areas (programming, robotics, etc.).

If you know of any contests that would fit in these categories, please post the information in this strand - including any contact information you might have.

Your assistance in this matter will be especially appreciated.

Thank you,

Charmaine Bentley
Membership Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 10:05 AM | Comments (8)