I was delighted to be invited by Dr. Ronnie Lowenstein to serve as a Global NetGeneration of Youth Cyberjournalist and attend an annual TC Williams High School “Noche de Ciencias,” more commonly known as “Night of Science.” Upon entering the Alexandria, Virginia High School, I was immediately welcomed by students, who then ushered me to the dining area where a variety of booths circled the inside of the room.
In the global labor market, computational thinking skills and knowledge of computer science are required in nearly all career fields. What’s more, jobs in computer science, information technology (IT) and related fields represent a large and growing sector of the economy. By 2020, as many as 4.6 million out of 9.2 million jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields will be computer-related, according to the Association for Computing Machinery.
The data presented here are from a large scale, nationally-representative survey of African American youth (ages 11 to 17) and their parents, supplemented and informed by a series of ten focus groups with African American parents and youth across the country (for more information on the demographics of the survey and focus group samples, please see the Methodology).
The influence of computing is felt daily and experienced on a personal, societal, and global level. Computer science, the discipline that makes the use of computers possible, has driven innovation in every industry and field of study, from anthropology to zoology. Computer science is also powering approaches to many of our world’s toughest challenges; some examples include decreasing automobile deaths, distributing medical vaccines, and providing platforms for rural villagers to participate in larger economies, among others.
The K–12 Computer Science Framework promotes a vision in which all students critically engage in computer science issues; approach problems in innovative ways; and create computational artifacts with a personal, practical, or community purpose.
New technologies and tools like desktop 3D printers, computer aided engineering software, and shared makerspaces haven’t just enhanced creativity and efficiency. They’ve sparked a quiet revolution. The Maker Movement — comprising inventors, programmers, designers, and tinkerers around the country — has already impacted how new products are designed and built, how regions approach economic development (PDF), and even how schools approach STEM education.
The findings in this report present positive growth in the area of CS with more principals reporting in Year 2 than in Year 1 that their school offers a CS class with programming or coding. Additionally, the study shows that key concepts, including computational thinking (CT), are being incorporated into classes.
Given the ubiquity of the computing field in society, the diversity gap in computer science (CS) education today means the field might not be generating the technological innovations that align with the needs of society’s demographics. Women and certain racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in learning CS and obtaining CS degrees, and this cycle perpetuates in CS careers. Many — including tech companies and educational institutions — have taken steps to make CS more appealing and accessible to these groups, yet the diversity gap endures.
The goal of this document is to help afterschool practitioners understand how NGSS’ content was developed and organized, a few challenges that schools and districts are facing, and the opportunities that NGSS provides to afterschool programs. We point to several resources that can help practitioners dig deeper into the standards and start planning how their next steps. Keep in mind that many education organizations are actively working to develop additional support resources and promising practices, both for school-day teachers and out-of-school time educators.
Alt School, located in Palo Alto, California, is an experiment in customized learning environments.