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The Ups and the Downs

Why does it always feel as thought we are moving one step forward and two steps back?

After holding an annual summer camp in January (Yes, here in New Zealand it is summer) for 23 students in various stages of programming expertise, I was heartened by the way that the participating students have continued working and helping each other via a Google group. The more experienced students are helping out the newbies and encouraging them along. Students who have come to camp in past years have built a training site. And another former student is rebuilding our organisation's website and wants to get an alumni organised.

I was also heartened by a new summer camp in Computer Science, held for 14 year old girls. This camp was held in conjunction with a CS4HS workshop for teachers. The girls had a great time and learned heaps. Many staff and students at the university gave up their time voluntarily in their summer holidays to help out. All this gives a sense of moving forward.

Today, however, one of the students from the programming summer camp reported to me that he wouldn't be able to get supervision at his school for a contest he needs to participate in so that he can be selected to represent New Zealand in the International Olympics in Informatics. "They have told me that they take no part in computer sciences, as it's not a part of their curriculum", he said.

So I am sad to say that despite our occasional wins and the clear interest, enthusiasm, and dedication of our students, the war for our subject to be fully accepted isn't won.

Thank goodness for all those students who plough on, regardless of the lack of formal tuition, support, or community.

So when you look around your programs, where do you see the wins and losses?

Margot Phillipps
CSTA Board of Directors
International Representative

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