Second annual computer science education week spotlights importance of computer science to the future of education, innovation



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SECOND ANNUAL COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION WEEK SPOTLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF COMPUTER SCIENCE TO THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION, INNOVATION

Urges Public to Raise Awareness of Computing and Its Role in Society through Local Actions
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 6, 2010—Few careers rival computer science in providing opportunities to develop innovative solutions to challenging issues. The second annual Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek http://www.csedweek.org ), which runs December 5-11, 2010, focuses on the need to build strong computer science education programs in schools to ensure that the nation has the skilled workforce it will need to develop future solutions. Building on the success of last year’s CSEdWeek, this year’s effort looks to foster excitement and support for rigorous and extensive programs in states and local districts.
While current projections show the creation of 1.4 million new computing jobs by 2018, a recently released report from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), Running on Empty: The Failure to Teach K–12 Computer Science in the Digital Age http://www.acm.org/runningonempty/, found that only nine states count high school computer science courses as a core academic subject in graduation requirements. In addition, Kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) computer science education suffers from a lack of teacher professional development, quality curriculum, student diversity and teacher certification. CSEdWeek demonstrates how local efforts can call attention to these issues, and elevate the status and quality of computer science education.
“We’re using this week in December and other year-round efforts to enlist the help of parents, students, educators, universities and corporations to build a stronger computer science education system throughout the nation,” said Debra Richardson, Chair of CSEdWeek. “We’re asking for their support and action to encourage local policy changes and instructional reforms to provide broader access to computer science education so that all students can succeed in our information-driven world.”
CSEdWeek provides those on a local level with resources to celebrate, communicate and advocate the numerous ways computing touches everyday lives. The call to action for the week is to take on activities such as:

  • Talk to teachers, principals and schools boards to call for quality courses

  • Visit with students to talk about career opportunities in computing

  • Use social networks to distribute CSEdWeek resources and tools

  • Host local celebrations and events highlighting computing’s impact

To date, the CSEdWeek site has registered more than 1,000 pledges of support by organizations such as Department of Homeland Security, National STEM Video Game Challenge, Dot Diva and Microsoft Research. Groups around the country are also organizing events, such as:



  • Fullerton, CA: A computer science class is taking a field trip to Raytheon.

  • Woodridge, IL: A teacher in is starting a tech club in her junior high school.

  • New York, NY: The ACM Student Chapter at The City University of New York (CUNY) is visiting the CUNY High Performance Computing Center.

  • Asheboro, NC: A middle school is distributing donated computers, repaired and maintained by the school’s computer club, to families who do not currently have a computer at home.

  • East Hampton, MA: Fifty technology- and accounting- focused high school students are touring the Microsoft Corporation in Cambridge, MA.

CSEdWeek is a joint effort led by a broad coalition of associations, corporations, governmental entities and other non-profits including the ACM, CSTA, the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), Boston’s PBS station WGBH, Computing Research Association, Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, Microsoft, Google Inc., SAS, Intel and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).


“Through efforts such as CSEdWeek, we aim to eliminate misperceptions about computer science and computing careers, and communicate the endless opportunities a deep understanding of computing enables,” said John White, CEO of ACM. “With a broad base of support, we’re working to place K-12 computer science among the other core disciplines necessary to prepare our students to solve the nation’s most pressing issues.”
A CSEdWeek website, http://csedweek.org, houses many resources and tools, including suggestions for celebrations, reports and statistics, lesson plans, event listings across the U.S. and Canada, and links to the official CSEdWeek communities on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/CSEdWeek Twitter http://twitter.com/CSEdWeek and YouTube, http://youtube.com/CSEdWeek , among many others.
CSEDWeek builds on a foundation of recent national-level progress on computer science education, which includes:

  • Inclusion of rigorous computer science in the definition of STEM within the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report, Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for America’s Future http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-stemed-report.pdf ;

  • The formation of Computing in the Core, a non-partisan advocacy coalition dedicated to influencing federal and state policy; and

  • The introduction of the Computer Science Education Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Effective computer science education means far more than learning how to use a computer—it is about computational thinking —problem decomposition, data analysis, and solution design—all of which can be incorporated across disciplines and benefit students with interests outside of computer science,” said Chris Stephenson, Executive Director of CSTA. “But we know that until we eliminate the roadblocks to quality computer science education, we are denying access to important skills and future opportunities."


Statistics from CSTA and NCWIT show that the number of computer science courses and Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science courses has fallen significantly across the nation in recent years as schools continue to cut funding to programs not recognized as core disciplines. In addition, there is little ethnic and gender diversity among the already too few students who are exposed to rigorous, engaging computer science courses.
“It’s essential that we make computer science education ubiquitous, rigorous and accessible to all young people—regardless of gender, ethnicity or background,” said Lucy Sanders, CEO of NCWIT. “Computer science education is the building block upon which we can create a future workforce that thinks in innovative ways, and create future citizens who will thrive in an information economy.”
“Microsoft is dedicated to increasing awareness of and access to computer science education at the K-12 level through events such as CSEdWeek and our Imagine Cup http://www.imaginecup.com ,” said Rick Rashid, Senior Vice President of Microsoft Research. “Today, more than ever, we need to empower students with the enthusiasm and creative problem-solving skills needed to address some of the world’s greatest challenges, from improving healthcare to reducing our impact on the environment.”

“The business community has a role to play in supporting the creation of educational resources that make direct connections between what is taught in schools and the skills needed in our top industries,” said Maggie Johnson, Director of Education and University Relations, Google Inc. “Support of CSEdWeek and the creation of resources such as our new Computational Thinking http://www.google.com/edu/computational-thinking/index.html initiative are a vital part of our deep commitment to education and the nation’s future workforce.”


CSEdWeek is held the second week in December in honor of Grace Murray Hopper, an outstanding pioneer in computer science, who was 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.

CSEdWeek was endorsed by the U.S. House of Representatives to acknowledge the critical role computer science education plays in K-12 and in higher education.


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