Computer Science Education Week Announced

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) posted this press release announcing passage of House of Representatives Resolution 558 which designates the week of December 7, in honor of Grace Hopper's birthday, as `National Computer Science Education Week'.

The official title reads, "A resolution supporting the increased understanding of, and interest in, computer science and computing careers among the public and in schools, and to ensure an ample and diverse future technology workforce through the designation of National Computer Science Education Week."

On Inspiration

We've been seeking to identify potential examples of CT inspiring so that we can market and "pull" demand for CT subject matter.

First, we should note that CT skills have not yet been identified, and thus, any examples would have to be analogous at this stage. The point in those examples being that this is the type of potential CT holds.
Second, what may be inspirational to one segment, may not inspire all, so we should continue to seek out appropriate examples for the corresponding groups - k-12, college, employers.

That said, here is one that may fit the bill.

"But then he started to think about what he'd learned as a tutor. That if he broke things down for students into small increments, if they had a chance to practice and learn, they could inevitably continue. He realized that the same thing was true for him, too. This was John's first "a-ha!" moment. A powerful enough realization that he went on to earn his PhD."

"How powerful is that? Eager to get his revolutionary approach to teaching math into the hands of teachers, John created a not-for-profit organization called JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies). Today, JUMP is getting spectacular results with all kinds of kids. For instance, after working with JUMP, an entire class of Grade 3 students, including so-called slow learners, scored over 90% on a Grade 6 math test. A group of British children who had been written off as too unruly responded so enthusiastically and had such impressive results that the school board adopted the program. I could go on and on."

This example could serve as one in the area of decomposition - taking complex problems and breaking them down for further understanding, practice, and study.

So what's so CT about that? Well, nothing really. Other than how commonly this technique is used in CS to solve complex problems - code modularization, and once modularized those modules need to interact, calls to libraries, iterations between modules, etc.

  • Abstraction
  • Algorithm
  • Data
  • Decomposition
  • Iterations
  • Query
  • Sense & Feedback
  • Systems

Often times it's more about making things simpler to understand, study, explain, practice, and use, as a means to working on complex problems. While it's one of the more basic concepts, it's often overlooked in problem solving.

Computational Thinking at Bob’s Diner

Here’s a little story about Bob and his diner, “Bob’s Eats”. Bob sells a wide variety of delicious deep fried dishes, from fried russet potatoes, to fried red potatoes. But, Bob is being outsold by his local rival, “Bett’s Diner”, and why? Because Bett understands Computational Thinking and Bob doesn’t!

1) Seeking a powerful characterization of CT
a. Using "Abstraction" as an analogy
b. Balancing Simplicity with Significance
c. Leveraging the power of ubiquitous computing

Comments encouraged!


CT and Computers

Thanks for the great meeting the other day, folks. There was an abundance of energy, and, as usual, 1.5 hours did not seem like enough. What a great team!

As we look forward to sorting the concept of CT in the coming weeks, I want to remind us all that ours is an interdisciplinary project, with application and meaning far beyond the study and use of computers. Wing's presentation at Yahoo! Labs makes this quite clear, and I think we also understand that if our work remains confined to the CS realm, we will have missed the point. Nevertheless, our discussions may flow that way if we are not vigilant. This may be one of our greatest challenges!

I also was sent a recent NYT opinion article with some interesting comments about our also-ran status as a nation in the world intellectual and financial economy. Let me know what you think!

Questions for our Subject Matter Expert Interview

In Friday's meeting, Bernard asked me to pose this question to the team. You will recall that the steering committee is planning on identifying and interviewing subject matter expert(s) on computational thinking, the concept. So here's my question:

  • CT clearly requires an interdisciplinary approach to reshaping educational programs to establish and reinforce CT foundational knowledge and skills. Can you imagine ways in which this would be done in a non-computer science domain without directly introducing the vocabulary of computer science or CT? That is, would you consider fifth graders' (or college business students' for that matter) demonstration of the ability to deconstruct a problem or to design a parallel problem solution strategy sufficient evidence of direct impact on educational results?
  • Add your contributions as comments to this post...

Housekeeping Note

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