When one thinks about computer science, images of a lone programmer might spring to mind, but computer science (CS) is about more than just coding. Computer science also includes problem solving, creativity, and abstraction. Whether designing artificial limbs, analyzing medical data to develop more effective treatments, or understanding the potential impact of impeding severe weather, computational competencies are empowering. Today, most U.S. schools do not offer academic CS courses. Schools offer courses on how to use technology, but not courses that cover the fundamental concepts and skills of computing. Read more in this news release.
Credit: Georgia Computes! Georgia Tech
From records to boom boxes to CDs and iPods, music has long been part of the lifeblood of being a teenager. Learning math and science in class is not always such a priority. Parag Chordia, director of the Music Intelligence Lab at Georgia Tech, is finding ways to bring those two disparate realities together. Chordia is researching the neurological roots of the creative process and music is a key ingredient. See more in this Science Nation video.
Credit: Science Nation, National Science Foundation
The Division of Computer and Network Systems in NSF's Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering supports research and education activities that invent new computing and networking technologies and that explore new ways to make use of existing technologies. The Division seeks to develop a better understanding of the fundamental properties of computer and network systems and to create better abstractions and tools for designing, building, analyzing, and measuring future systems.
Computer science professionals of a variety of backgrounds and views discuss why it is imperative for the field to embrace a diversity of perspectives to address today's global challenges.
September 2, 2014
Education research team successfully launches innovative computer science curriculum
"Exploring Computer Science" boosts female student participation in L.A. school district to double the national average
Jane Margolis is an educator and researcher at UCLA, who has dedicated her career to democratizing computer science education and addressing under-representation in the field. Her work inspires students from diverse backgrounds to study computer science and to use their knowledge to help society. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Margolis and her team investigated why so few girls and under-represented minorities are learning computer science. They developed "Exploring Computer Science," or ECS, to reverse the trend.
ECS is tailored to spark the interest of all kids, but especially a diverse mix of kids living in low income areas, by encouraging the students to explore through hands-on learning projects and to collaborate to solve problems. Margolis says getting kids to understand problem solving is at the heart of computer science. Teacher development is also a critical part of making ECS a success in the classroom.
Today, more than 2,000 students in the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) are learning computer science through ECS each year. Most of these students are African American and Latino. ECS is also increasing the percentage of female students taking computer science courses. At a time when the national average of female students who are participating in AP computer science is about 19 percent, the LAUSD ECS enrollment is 40 percent female – twice the national average!
ECS is now being taught in schools across the U.S. Thanks to Margolis's research, this curriculum is introducing more students to the creative possibilities in computer science.
The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1241284, Into the Loop Alliance.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.