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Capturing Students' Interest in Computer Science

Hardly a day goes by without one of my e-newsletters posting a feature about special programs designed to interest students (particularly young students) in pursuing a career in Computer Science and/or the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. As a lifelong educator with a love of the STEM disciplines as well as of computer science, this is so gratifying to me! We certainly need to interest students in all of these career fields..all students, but particularly female and minority students.

One such summer opportunity for young people is a camp in South Florida that teaches elementary school children the basics of robotics and computer programming (two of my most favorite subjects). The camp is taught by a former high school physics teacher who hopes to better prepare the students for high school science. What a great way to interest these young people in science and computer science! And elementary school children are certainly not too young to develop such an interest.

A similar opportunity took place at McKinley Technical High School in Washington, D.C. This summer enrichment program involved middle and high school students who developed programming and modeling for a prototype of an educational computer game called Immune Attack 3.0. The group of students had used the video game to learn last summer. This summer the students were using their programming and modeling skills to help update the game. Again, what a great way to interest young people in Computer Science by making science and computer science more fun and engaging through the use of video games! More information can be found by following this link:

http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=60054

The University of Washington had an innovative summer enrichment academy. This academy introduces deaf and hard-of-hearing students to careers in computer science. The academy is a nine-week intensive program for outstanding math and science students in the 16- to 22-years old age group. The students who participated were from Arizona, Indiana, Maine, New York, Texas, and Virginia, as well as from Washington. The students lived on campus and took a college-level computer programming course. They earned a certificate in computer animation. The students communicated innovative ideas with American Sign Language during class. This program not only interests more young people in computer science, but it strives to diversify the computer science field. Further information about this academy can be found by following this link:

http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=59995

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, IN, also conducted a summer education program called Operation Catapult. Thirteen rising high school seniors participated in a variety of hands-on projects and attended lectures on a variety of topics. Students completed projects in such areas as entrepreneurship, Python computer programming, and embedded microcontrollers. The program is in its 43rd year of enticing young people to enter STEM (and computer science) career fields. More information can be found by following this link:

http://www.tribstar.com/schools/local_story_223221103.html

Educators and computer science professionals alike understand the importance of capturing students' interest in computer science at a young age. IBM conducted a STEM Camp for Girls in Burlington, Vermont this summer. During the camp, 40 young women learned to build robots with Legos as well as to design Web pages. While having fun in engaging activities, the seventh-grade students were honing their math, science, and technology skills. The girls will return to the IBM facility in February for Job Shadowing Day. What a great idea! Not only are the students engaged in activities that will attract them to computer science, they will also learn more about the profession when they return during the work-based learning activity in February. Again, the enrichment program will interest a diverse group in pursuing a career in computer science. You may find further information about this program by following this link:

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20090812/NEWS02/90812018

All computer science educators and computer science professionals should take note of these programs. The United States has a critical shortage of professionals in all STEM and computer science professions. Students who are engaged in authentic projects and applications of science, math, and computer science are far more likely to follow a career path into one of these fields. Women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in the STEM and computer science fields. Summer enrichment programs, job-shadowing programs, mentoring programs, and partnerships between education and business and industry are all investments in young people that will produce a great return (more young people and especially those from underrepresented groups) seeking career paths in computer science.

Deborah Seehorn
CSTA Board Member

Comments

I just joined in this blog yes i agree with you as you said college students are very much interested to learn computer science.

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