Celebrating Computer Science

The second annual Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) may be coming to an end tomorrow, but we at OSTP did not want to let this important milestone pass without bringing some attention to its goals of building up and strengthening computer science education programs around the country to better prepare students for the digital age. By stimulating a range of activities all across the country, this special week of celebration and education seeks to ensure that our Nation retains and expands its innovative and skilled workforce in order to address such pressing problems as environmental degradation, poverty, hunger, and threats to homeland security.

Building on the success of last year’s CSEdWeek, this year’s effort has built support for rigorous and extensive computer science education programs in states, universities, and local school districts. An array of local celebrations has helped create awareness of the challenges facing the field—including the need for better professional development for teachers, improved curricula, and inclusion of more students from groups underrepresented in technical fields—even as they have inspired a growing number of students to pursue classes and careers in computer science.

Earlier this week, for example, middle- and high-school students from Columbus, IN, visited the campus of Indiana University-Bloomington to make detailed observations of a large geometric sculpture, “Indiana Arc,” by Charles Perry.  At Bradley University in Illinois, students organized a digital gaming competition. And in Palo Alto, CA, students at Henry M. Gunn High School hosted a Bay Area programming contest.

You can find more information on these celebrations and resources for computer science education at http://www.csedweek.org.

Computer science is increasing its stature in Washington and throughout the Nation given predictions that some 800,000 high-end computer science jobs are expected to be created between now and 2016, making it one of the fastest growing occupational fields. The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) emphasized the importance of computer science as an element of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in its recent report, Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for America’s Future.

CSEdWeek is a joint effort held in cooperation with the Computing in the Core Coalition and led by a broad coalition of professional associations, corporations, governmental entities and non-governmental organizations. It is held the second week in December in honor of Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneer in computer science born on December 9, 1906. She engineered new programming languages and developed standards for computer systems that laid the foundation for many advances in computer science from the late 1940s through the 1970s.

Dawn Joseph is a student volunteer at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

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