The Most Exciting Time of Year!

Computer Science Education Week

As a high school computer science teacher, I teach computer science everyday so this week isn’t anything different for me. Except, I know that thousands of people around the world are joining me and my students in teaching and learning computer science. Computer Science Education Week is an International Campaign to help teach everyone the basics of computer science. People get a taste of programming by helping BB-8 recycle, Elisa draw picture with her ice skates or by building their own skill for Alexa.

The “Hour of Code” activities are so fun that I don’t think I’ve ever heard a student question why they were doing it, except to whisper to the person next to them that they were surprised they got class time to play video games. However, if you ever do find a student (or more likely a parent) who asks you when they will ever use this you should be prepared. Computer Science Education Week shines light on the technology that affects everyone every day. Students learn a little bit about how computers work and get one step closer to being able to control the technologies that they use constantly. In one of the first years of Computer Science Education Week posters were distributed with a quote from Barrack Obama saying “Don’t just play on your phone, program it.” I have had students take this quote seriously and work hard to not only program their phone but use this skill to make a difference. They created an app that teaches their community about the dangers of bad air quality and what people could do to help. This generation is attached to their technology and by opening the door to students you are giving them the opportunity to change the world they live in.

Sadly not everyone is going to become a computer scientist but the skills learned by completing these activities are ones that will benefit everyone. Computer Science affects almost every job and is transforming what jobs even exist. Learning how to break down a problem into well-defined steps helps in every walk of life. Determination and grit as one has to determine what “bug” is breaking their program help students to gain confidence and persevere through challenges. Designing creative solutions to complex problems is a description that can apply to every class.

Now this might seem like a selfish request because the more computer science students see before high school the easier my job becomes, but I think it really is a selfless request because a little bit of computer science knowledge will also make each person’s life a little more interesting.

You don’t need to be a student. You don’t need to know how to read. You really don’t even need a full hour.

If you have not yet explored the “Hour of Code” activities, I implore you to go look. They have something for everyone. You don’t need to be a student. You don’t need to know how to read. You really don’t even need a full hour (WARNING: it might be so fun that you spend more than an hour). Open your world to a new world of technology.

Written by Jessica Allen for ChickTech Orange County.

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Jessica is currently a high school computer science teacher at Lennox Math, Science and Technology Academy. She teaches AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A. She is a master teacher for Project Lead the Way, leading professional development and writing standardized test questions. She also works with the College Board in regards to Computer Science Principles.

Jessica has a Bachelor’s in Applied Math and Computer Science with a minor in Science and Math Education from University of California at Berkeley and holds a Secondary Mathematics teaching credential. She was honored in 2017 with an NCWIT Educators Award. In her “spare time”, she enjoys genealogy, dancing, piano, and reading.

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