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Computer Science Entrepreneurs

During the last few weeks I have been fondly reminded of the joys I experienced when teaching and working with a student organization and encountering that rare student who has a passion, as well as the initiative to see that passion come to fruition. I'm sure you know the type of student who can teach us teachers so much if we just have the good grace to allow them to take the ball and run with it. That is if the teacher can really be the guide on the side and not the sage on the stage. I was reminded of this pleasure when I read articles about young Computer Science entrepreneurs.

One of these young entrepreneurs was touted by network news as "the next Steve Jobs," and I have to agree that when I saw him on stage, he was rather impressive! He is a sixth grade programming guru that has been creating apps for the iPhone and iPad. He even formed a club at school so that he could share his knowledge of programming with students who didn't know how to program, giving him a place to share his passion. Thomas Suarez is a California middle school student who has been fascinated by computers and technology since before he started kindergarten. Thankfully, Thomas has been supported by his teachers, his family, and of course the good folks at the Apple Store. Once he has created the apps, they will be available free to local schools. Any revenue will go to local education programs. Thomas shares a philosophy much like mine: "students are a valuable new technology resource to teachers, and should be empowered to offer assistance in developing the technology curriculum and also assist in delivering the lessons." (However, I did realize that fact some 20 years ago; maybe not so new. You can learn a lot from your students!)

Lest you think that only young men are the entrepreneurs of the CS world, there are also some young women making strides in the app development world. Two girl scouts in Dallas, Texas, working on a science and technology badge, developed a mobile app titled Teachers Best Friend. Grace Swierenga, 12, and Lindsey Hettish, 13, developed the app to help teachers grade tests more efficiently. These young women were inspired to develop the app through the STEM initiative. They were to promote their idea to executives from AT&T and Alcatel-Lucent so their idea could be realized. Kudos to the Girl Scouts as well as to AT&T and Alcatel-Lucent for inspiring young women to enter the world of computer science! Maybe one of these young women will be "the next Steve Jobs!"

How gratifying it is to see young entrepreneurs using their computer science skills to make the world a better place! As we near CS Education Week, what are you doing to inspire young people to excel in the world of Computer Science? Hopefully, you are one of those educators who can learn a lot from your students, and you have the good grace to stand back and let them take flight.

Deborah Seehorn
CSTA Board of Directors

Note: Articles referenced above may be accessed by following these links:

http://whatworks.wholechildeducation.org/blog/sixth-grader-builds-iphone-apps-and-sparks-learning-in-school/

http://www.tecca.com/news/2011/10/27/girl-scouts-app/

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