Technology has Vastly Improved our World, and Artificial Intelligence Will Keep Making It Better

Check out these recent headlines about artificial intelligence (AI):

Artificial Intelligence and the Rise of Economic Inequality (2017)
Never Mind Killer Robots—Here Are 6 Real A.I. Dangers to Watch Out For (2019)
AI Greater Threat to Human Existence than Climate Change (2019)

These headlines are from reputable news sources, including MIT Technology Review. Is it just me, or has the media decided that AI will cause the end of civilization as we know it?

I’d like to suggest that exactly the opposite is true. In fact, owing to technological innovations, the quality of life has improved immensely—across all of the world. For example, did you know that:

  • Over the last 200 years, the fraction of people living in extreme poverty has dropped from 85% (in 1800) to just 9% (in 2017)?
  • Over this same period, the average life expectancy—worldwide—has risen from 31 years to 72 years?
  • Since 1970, the fraction of people who are undernourished has dropped from 28% to 11% (in 2015)?

All of these things are true (Rosling et al., Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, 2018).

For all of us who are living reasonably comfortable lives, we owe this largely to the march of technologies which have made our lives massively better: providing abundant food, inexpensive clothing, affordable shelter, and sanitary plumbing.

Remember the Luddites? They were wrong. Machines have made our lives better. Representation of Luddites destroying a weaving machine, early to mid 1800s. Public domain image retrieved from Wikimedia.

What does this have to do with artificial intelligence? Let me suggest that AI is simply the current technology for building machines that are improving our lives.

Here are three big areas in which AI is making things better, right now: medicine, energy, and food:

In medical applications, AI-based software, working in conjunction with doctors, is analyzing lung nodules in CT scans, freeing up doctors’ time and lowering costs; achieving nearly 100% success in identifying breast cancer cells (better than doctors or AI alone); and preventing blindness, by automating the detection of eye diseases.

In energy applications, AI systems do weather prediction to allow more efficient utilization of renewable sources of energy; are deployed with sensors in environments to better control heating and cooling (e.g. saving up to 40% of cooling costs in data centers); and used in “intelligent energy storage,” a key part of the solution in deploying solar and wind power. In short, AI is integral in saving energy and making renewable energy effective at scale.

In agricultural applications, AI is employed in computer vision techniques to improve crop health and reduce herbicide use; in harvesting-robots, which are reducing labor costs and increasing yields; and in precision-farming (e.g., providing farmers with timely and actionable information about how to combat a swarm of pests).

These are all fabulously good, amazing things that are making our world better and improving people’s lives.

Of course, there are challenges. Technology causes disruptions in work, as work previously done by people is done by machines (see Luddites, above). AI will cause the same. People will lose their jobs. New jobs will be created, but it’s not clear that the people who lose their jobs will be the ones able to fill the new jobs.

These societal challenges are best resolved with engagement in consciousness-raising and political action.

We have already seen positive change stemming from recent concerns with AI systems. Just 18 months ago, it was headline news that face-recognition systems often misidentified women and people of color.

Thanks to the work of activist reporters and many others (including those who were most adversely impacted), it’s a widely known issue. An entire community has formed to address issues of “fairness, accountability, and transparency” in AI; this group holds an annual conference. Microsoft has withdrawn its facial recognition database in response to these concerns, and IBM Research released a “Diversity in Faces” dataset to advance the study of fairness in facial recognition systems.

This is exactly what we would want to happen in a democratic society.

While we combat social injustices, we must take the long view. Artificial Intelligence will be part of the technologies we build to advance humankind and all the species which populate our world.

Let’s not fear AI; let’s embrace it. AI will save the world.

head shot of Fred Martin, chair of board of directors
Fred Martin, Past Chair of Board of Directors

My Summer PD looks like a Promising New Adventure…

The CSTA conference has been my summer PD for many years now, and it is incredible all the things I’ve been able to learn and bring back to my classroom for the new school year. This year I started thinking about this and how my instruction is always enhanced by the workshops and sessions I attend.

This year, I was looking for fresh new ideas. After teaching High School Computer Science for the last few years, this year I will be teaching Middle School. I needed ways to make my class engaging without eliminating the element of fun. I attended many great workshops and sessions at the conference but a session about Flipping, Agile and Gamification was particularly enlightening. This session talked about how to truly engage students and teach collaboration. It talked about adding game-like elements to projects and instruction to motivate and engage students. It was a great session given by Mr. Brandon Milonovich.

After the conference, I decided I wanted to learn more and felt I had a road to follow and a goal to meet. During my research, I came upon a book called EDrenaline Rush by John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) that talks about how to engage students using several elements that are used in Theme Parks, Mud Runs and Escape Rooms. This was a game-changer. I started planning my year with a new perspective. It talks about how “classroom walls belong to the learners inside as much as the teacher”. It talks about how your class needs a story. This book is not specifically about Computer Science, but it is so applicable.

I am using Avengers as my classroom theme this year. I am introducing middle schoolers to the Problem-Solving Process and how to apply Computer Science to engineering and I thought this will make a great story for my class. Some of the Avengers were born with their powers but others were self-made. Tony Stark is a great inventor and engineer who created Iron Man, Captain America was also made through science and innovation. This is opening a door for my students to become Everyday Heroes doing extraordinary things. They will have a mission to improve their world through Innovation, collaboration all using Computer Science Skills. They will feel they belong to a team with a purpose and a mission, all the while earning points and badges. Gamifying my class. I want them to think, ask, research & create using Computer Science skills.

I was really nervous and stressed about the move to a new division and now I am really excited to see all the great things my students will be able to do throughout this year. If you have the chance, please do not doubt to register for the CSTA conference 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. There has not been a year so far that I have not used some of the knowledge I got at the conference in my class the following year.

I will let you know how the adventure goes. To be continued…

Michelle Lagos
Representative At Large

Honoring CSTA’s Board of Directors

CSTA is proud to have a teacher-led Board of Directors that is focused on creating a strong environment to support our members. For the past 17 months, I’ve worked alongside these board members to reshape CSTA for growth through the launch of CSTA+ membership, introduction of a new website and member experience and expansion of the CSTA Annual Conference. 

As they rotate off of the CSTA Board of Directors, I’d like to thank these outgoing members for their years of dedication and service: 

David Benedetto, At-Large Representative

Doug Bergman, 9–12 Representative 

Bryan Twarek, School District Representative 

I’d like to congratulate K–8 Representative Vicky Sedgwick on her re-election to another term and to Jane Prey and Bobby Schnabel on their re-appointments. I’m glad that we’ll be able to continue the work that we’ve started together. 

With change comes new faces and fresh ideas to CSTA’s Board of Directors. Welcome to our newest members:  

Art Lopez,  9–12 Representative

Michelle Friend, At-Large Representative 

Dan Blier, District Representative 

As we begin a new fiscal year, I look forward to continuing to work with the Board to further CSTA’s mission.

Jake Baskin
Executive Director

CSTA: CS for ALL, Equity Access, and Bridging Gender and Diversity Gaps

My name is Art Lopez, and it is an honor and privilege to have been elected to serve on CSTA’s Board of Directors as one of the 9-12 representatives. I would like to share with you a story of my journey and involvement with CSTA and Computer Science Education.

I have been teaching for 31 years in a variety of educational settings (middle and high schools and higher ed). Nine years ago, one of my high school students approached and asked me, “Mr. Lopez, why does Torrey Pines and La Jolla High Schools have computer science courses and we do not?” I replied that the student had asked a very good question, and conducted my own research on how many computer science courses were taught in my district.

The Sweetwater Union High School District is located in the South County of San Diego, and includes the border between San Diego, CA and Tijuana, Mexico. It has 13 high schools, 11 middle schools, 42,000 students, 70% diverse, 50% English Language Learners, 50% free/reduced lunch program participants, and not a single school taught a computer science course.

I realized that the students of my district were not being given the same educational opportunities and exposure to computer science education as those students in more privileged communities; I wanted to change this and provide them the same equity access to CS education and the opportunities that the field presents. In our world today, computing and computational thinking is just as important for our children to learn as the “three R’s” (Dr. Beth Simon of UC-San Diego).

I did not have a CS background, but, fortunately, I encountered an opportunity and became involved with a CS education program at UC-San Diego and the San Diego Supercomputer Center through a NSF grant by Dr. Jan Cuny. I discovered that CS education was seriously lacking in public education, and that only one in 10 high schools across the country offered CS courses. Furthermore, a main goal of the NSF grant was to broaden participation of under-represented groups in computer science, both women and ethnically diverse students, and provide equity access of computer science courses at ALL high schools (Dr. Jan Cuny, NSF Program Officer).

Through this new network, I discovered CSTA and joined to connect and network with others on teaching CS. It was a small but passionate and dedicated group interested in providing CS education for all students in the region of San Diego.

Since 2011, I have been engaged and collaborating/working within the CS education community at national, regional, and local levels, including teaching and creating/modifying/providing curriculum and best teaching practices. I also embed strategies for diverse populations for computer science education teachers and undergrads interested in teaching CS.

I have been fortunate to work with so many great people within the CS community; I wanted to share out what I have learned with others in my local area, coordinating and providing CS educators professional development/networking opportunities, access to free curriculum/instructional materials, and connections with industry partners interested in CS education. I immediately thought of the CSTA-San Diego Chapter as being the focal point for accomplishing this goal.

Unfortunately, during 2016- 2017, our local CSTA chapter had met only once. I reached out to our university partners/colleagues and some members of CSTA-San Diego; we created a new board, and worked on the “re-booting” of our chapter. Since then, we have had six general meetings with an attendance of between 50 to 80 CS educators from K-12, higher ed and industry members; the goals of our chapter focuses on equity access, bridging gender and diversity gaps, and providing engaging, rigorous, and all-inclusive CS curriculum (Dr. Susan Yonezawa, UC-San Diego): CS for All.

Because of these efforts, my district this year will offer over 60+ CS courses: AP CSP at 12 and AP CS A at eight high schools, and seven middle school CS courses. CSTA’s role cannot be understated for our members and the children and adults we teach. I want all of you to know that I will do my best to be all-inclusive and be your voice, working and serving with our board of directors, staff and the members of our CSTA community in addressing the issues of equity access, bridging gender and diversity gaps, providing CS FOR ALL, as well as resources and professional development/networking opportunities for our members.

Art Lopez
9-12 Teacher Representative

Chapter Leadership Summit – 2019 CSTA Annual Conference

On July 7-8, chapter leaders from more than 60 CSTA Chapters came together for the Chapter Leadership Summit at the 2019 CSTA Annual Conference. This two-day event provided chapter leaders with educational sessions and specialized training on various topics. It also provided an opportunity for chapter leaders to meet and connect with CSTA Executive Director Jake Baskin, as well as the CSTA Staff and the Board of Directors. The Summit ultimately gave chapter leaders the opportunity to foster an exchange of ideas and information while also developing leadership skills.

Some highlights from the sessions at the Chapter Leadership Summit:

Opening Session and Q&A

In these sessions, CSTA Executive Director Jake Baskin and members of the Board of Directors reviewed the mission and goals of CSTA and summarized the future direction of the organization, all the while answering questions from chapter leaders.

Chapter Rubric and Chapter Self Assessment 

CSTA Director of Education Bryan “BT” Twarek introduced chapter leaders to the Chapter Rubric. The rubric will be used to help chapter leaders assess the areas of strength and growth for their chapter. Chapter leaders were given time to review the rubric and then an opportunity to discuss strategies and plans of action with other chapter leaders.

Chapter Finances and Chapter Grant Program

Michelle Page, CSTA’s COO, presented valuable information on Chapter Finances and the Chapter Grant Program. She provided details on how to manage chapter finances and discussed potential future opportunities to benefit from CSTA’s non-profit status. She also reviewed the criteria of the CSTA Chapter Grant Program, the types of programs and events that earn grant funding, and creating a plan for applying for the next round of grants.

CSTA’s New Web Platform & Chapter Marketing Success

Stacy Jeziorowski, CSTA’s Marketing and Communications Manager led two very informational sessions during the Summit. One of her sessions was dedicated to CSTA’s new web platform, Member Nova. Chapter leaders were presented with the features and advantages of using CSTA’s new web platform and had the opportunity to start their website onsite. In addition,  current chapters that have already made the transition to the new web platform spoke about their successes and ideas. Stacy’s second session was dedicated to Chapter Marketing. During this session, chapter leaders were introduced to the CSTA’s chapter branding guidelines, as well as had the opportunity to develop a simple marketing plan for their chapter that would increase their chapter’s digital presence. 

Chapter Fundraising

Daniel Rosenstein, CSTA’s Manager of Philanthropies and Community Partnerships, offered a session on leveraging the unique and creative ways that chapters can raise money while increasing brand awareness. Chapter leaders also had the opportunity to set an annual fundraising goal and create a plan to meet this goal.

Chapter Workshop-in-a-Box

Chapter leaders were introduced to the Workshops-in-a-Box by a team from NCWIT. The Workshop-in-a-Box session was designed to assist chapter leaders in offering timely and relevant professional development to their members, as well as offer strategies that could be implemented in their classrooms immediately.

Introduction to Grassroots Advocacy

In this session, chapter leaders received a crash course in grassroots advocacy, including how to talk to elected officials, build coalitions, and develop policy recommendations. Chapter leaders also learned about the Code.org Advocacy Coalition’s nine recommended state policies that expand access to computer science and why equity-based policies create better outcomes for all students.

Chapter Leader Networking

There were also several opportunities at the Summit for chapter leaders to network with other chapter leaders and hear about the incredible work that is being done in chapters across the US. During the Chapter Spotlight sessions, chapter leaders discussed relevant ideas and strategies on increasing membership, keeping members active/engaged, and hosting events that other chapters could try in their own chapters. The Leadership (Un)Conference sessions provided an opportunity for chapter leaders to suggest topic ideas that they wanted to discuss and connect with other chapter leaders with similar interests, challenges, or contexts. The Meetup Chapter Role session allowed chapter leaders to connect with other leaders who have similar roles/responsibilities and receive answers and support for problems/issues they’re experiencing.

Closing Session

Finally, in the closing session, chapter leaders had the opportunity to put the tools and resources they have gained throughout the Chapter Leadership Summit to use. Chapter leaders used this time to map out what their chapter hopes to accomplish over the next year.


This event could not have taken place without all the hard work of Chapter Relations Manager Leslie Scantlebury and her Chapter Leader Task Force.

Kristeen Shabram
K-8 Representative

Are You Ready for #CSTA2019?

I am counting down the days to the 2019 CSTA Annual Conference. How about you?

My countdown actually began at the start of the month when we held a special #csk8 Twitter chat about Getting the Most from #CSTA2019. Here’s some of the wisdom shared during and after the chat to help you make the most of the conference!

Why should CS teachers & teachers of CS attend the 2019 CSTA Conference?

For me, a CSTA conference is THE place to be because I don’t have to search the schedule for sessions that are CS related – they’re ALL CS related.

This will be the largest CSTA Annual Conference ever. Come & make history with us!

I think CS teachers & teachers of CS should attend #CSTA2019 because it’s a great opportunity to network. I always meet so many amazing educators at this conference and gain a plethora of resources to use in my classroom.

I went for the first time last year, and really felt like it was the BEST PD/conference I attended all summer. We have so much available freely and online, but there was just something AWESOME about connecting with other CS educators in person.

If you’ll be in Phoenix before Tuesday when sessions begin and you’re not attending pre-conference workshops or the Chapter Leadership Summit, what can you do to get your learning started and/or to network with fellow attendees?

Visit the exhibit hall on Monday afternoon and evening – yes, it’s open before the conference officially starts and during the conference, of course!

My favorite thing before sessions start on Tuesday are the Birds-of-a-Feather sessions on Monday evening – casual conversations with like-minded CS educators! Yes, you can go to these even if you didn’t register for any workshops.

Come early and earn a certification in the Certiport Lab which is open on Monday from noon – 5pm and during the conference, if you aren’t in Phoenix early.

Don’t forget the Welcome Reception on Monday evening starting at 5:30pm.

How do you choose from the 40+ sessions, 3 mini-session blocks w/8 minis, and 12 posters at #CSTA2019?

Posters are new this year. Definitely stop by these to see the amazing projects that CS teachers are doing in their classrooms.

Go for variety. Try some sessions that include ideas/topics that you may have never considered.

If you are attending with others from your school or district, split up and attend different sessions and share what you learned!

Use the filters on program to search by keyword for topics and grade levels.

I’m a planner and like to go through the program before a conference and make a list of all of the sessions I would like to attend and that apply to the grade levels I teach. I can’t possibly go to them all but I can use the list to check for resources that may have been shared later.

What suggestions do you have for networking and social activities after conference hours?

There will be a Whiteboard in the registration area where you can add after hour plans or see what others are planning and sign up if you’re interested in joining. Make sure to check it out!

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself & to network with others. CSTA Conference attendees are the best! Ask around as to what is going on. Just do it!

Grab some peers to network and celebrate Taco Tuesday. It’s a great way to experience Phoenix like a local!

If you’re doing something with a group, invite someone new along.

Is there anything else you would like to share about getting the most from the 2019 CSTA Conference?

Make sure to exchange contact information with people that you meet at #CSTA2019 … maybe even bring a business card with contact information that you can hand out.

I LOVE learning about awesome, free curriculum available to all CS educators. We will have an incredible array of offerings for our kiddos right at our fingertips in the exhibit hall. The exhibitors do a great job showing off those tools!

Go up and say “hi” to people. Don’t be afraid to join a discussion!

Be sure to play the Conference Game. Not only will it be lots of fun but it will give you reasons to talk to people!

Don’t just sit with friends at meals. Find someone in a session you attend to have lunch with or ask to join others at a table.

There you have it … some crowd-sourced ideas to help you have a great CSTA 2019 Conference. I thank the #csk8 chatters for their ideas and their ongoing support of the #csk8 Twitter chat. I can’t wait to see them and all of you in Phoenix! If you’re not able to be there, make sure to follow all the fun on the #CSTA2019 hashtag!

Vicky Sedgwick K-8 Teacher Representative

Still Failing at Fairness

Equity – or the lack thereof – is a challenging thing to talk about. For people who recognize it’s a problem, it isn’t necessary to reiterate, because they’re already aware of the problem. People who don’t think it’s a problem tend to zone out – “this again?” – or be unconvinced.

Issues around gender inequity in schools first came to public attention in the mid 1990’s, when Myra and David Sadker published Failing at Fairness, which showed that girls were being subtly discriminated against in schools, even by well-intentioned teachers. Initially there was a lot of fanfare, and I remember teachers really thinking about trying to have more equitable classrooms. One of the major points of notice was inequitable participation in class discussions – the Sadkers really demonstrated that boys got called on more and got more teacher interaction than girls did. This is still happening, even after decades of teachers trying to be more equitable.

One interesting finding has to do with the perception of who talks more. A friend of mine kept track of who talked, during a discussion between her high school students. At the end of the discussion, she asked students who had talked the most, and everyone (boys and girls) agreed that it had been one girl. It turns out that nope, several boys had participated more, but no one perceived them as speaking as much as they had. This is backed up by research – people overestimate how much women speak and underestimate how much men speak in public.

A recent study looked at the interaction of gender and race in student participation in middle school classes. The headline “How White Boys Become Geniuses” is a hint to the findings. It stuck out to me because the findings are so similar to our perceptions of computer scientists. Sure, we all agree that girls can do it, but all our cultural references of geniuses are men, usually white men. From the article: “This research has broader relevance for explaining men’s dominance in fields that place a premium on what is perceived as “raw intelligence.” And it provides insight into how they gain entrance into the C-Suite. As one teacher said, “Jacob’s a full-package kid. He’s super nice, he’s brilliant and he’s a well-rounded kid. He likes sports and all this stuff . . . He’s going to be the next Elon Musk or something,” implying that Jacob, a white boy, is destined to become a CEO.”

It seems to me that it is even more crucial to overcome this tendency in computer science than it is in disciplines with less of an ingrained stereotype about who is a genius. The question is how? Twenty years of little progress suggests it is hard, but one way is to start by counting – count who you call on, count who calls out and how you handle it, count the number of complements you give students. In Better, Atul Gawande suggests that a fast and easy way towards improvement is just to start counting things you think need improvement, and go from there. What can you count?

Michelle Friend
At-Large Representative

The AP Reading

For the last week, I have been at the Advanced Placement (AP) reading for the CS Principles course in Kansas City, part of a few hundred readers that evaluate the performance tasks submitted by students. It’s an incredible experience in many ways!

For those new to the CS Principles course, it is a breadth-first introduction to computer science emphasizing creativity and collaboration across topics like data, the internet, and the impact of technology in addition to programming. With a goal of increasing access to and success in computer science for underrepresented students, the course is an engaging introduction to computing that reached almost 75,000 students in the 2017-18 academic year.

But 75,000 students means 150,000 performance tasks to grade! Each student submits a programming project and write-up, the Create performance task, and a computational artifact and write-up on a computing innovation, the Explore performance task. Along with 100+ readers in Kansas City and hundreds more grading tasks at home, we’ve been able to see the incredible impact this course has had on students.

The AP reading process includes training on student samples so that readers can grade the tasks using a rubric as consistently as possible. After that, the readers grade…and grade…and grade some more. We’re here in Kansas City grading performance tasks 8 hours a day – which can be grueling! – and then there are speakers and professional development options in the evening. But the readers are all very positive, excited about the work they see from students, and they play a key role in what makes this course a success.

As a college professor, I used to think grading was the worst part of teaching. However, this is different. There is a lot of value for someone who teaches the course in seeing the fine details of how the rubric is applied, common student misconceptions, and then using that knowledge to improve their instruction. And of course there’s the community. Where else besides the CSTA Annual Conference do you have the chance to connect with computer science teachers from across the country who are so passionate about bringing CS to all students?!

I leave Kansas City tomorrow in awe of the incredible work ethic as well as the care and consideration that teachers bring to the AP reading. The CS Principles course would not be the success it is without them.

Jennifer Rosato
Teacher Education Representative

Why the Responsible Computer Science Challenge Matters to You

A few weeks ago, a group of organizations (Omidyar Network, Mozilla, Schmidt Futures, and Craig Newmark Philanthropies) announced the winners of the “Responsible Computer Science Challenge.”   What is this challenge? It’s an initiative to integrate content about ethics and responsibility into undergraduate computer science curricula and pedagogy in U.S. colleges and universities – clearly a timely and important topic.

But in most cases, you as a reader of this CSTA blog are involved with K-12, not university, computer science education.   So why should the Responsible Computer Science Challenge matter to you? Three reasons:

  1. The materials produced will be designed for incorporation into technical computer science courses, including at the introductory level.   As the topic of ethics and social responsibility in computing has become more prevalent in university computer science education, initially much of that has been in standalone courses.   There’s nothing wrong with that – I sure hope not, I’m introducing such a course at my university next semester! But ethics will become far more fundamental to the mindset of computer scientists if it is an integral part of core, technical computer science classes, and this is exactly the approach that the Responsible Computer Science Challenge takes.   Many of the successful proposals address introductory classes. As such, they should produce materials and approaches that are relevant and helpful in K-12 computer science education as well.
  1. The outputs from the funded projects will be openly available.   A fundamental feature of the Responsible Computer Science Challenge has been the production of openly available materials, such as syllabi or class activities.   This will be done either by making these materials available online without restrictions, or where a license is involved, through use of a Creative Commons license.  Thus, a rich library of materials for K-12 and university educators to consider will be produced within the next 1-2 years.
  1. The quality is likely to be very high.   The competition in this challenge was stiff and the 17 award winners are a broad set with very high-quality experience and plans.   The breadth cuts across many dimensions: types of universities (community college, undergraduate colleges, research universities, public and private, small and large); types of curricular and classroom approaches (e.g. ethics exercises and assignments, role playing games, case studies); and the courses to be targeted (including introductory programming, algorithm design, AI, data science, cybersecurity and more).   

For more information on the Responsible Computer Science Challenge and the 17 award winners, see https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/initiatives/responsible-cs/challenge/ and https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2019/04/30/2-4-million-in-prizes-for-schools-teaching-ethics-alongside-computer-science/.  

By Bobby Schnabel, Partner Representative

Yes, It Really Is About K-12

Now that I’m retired (and busier than ever!), I often reflect on how I learned to love science and computing. Back then, then computing didn’t really exist – it was math. I remember a middle school math class where I had to figure out how to turn on and off red, yellow and green lights. That was probably my first programming experience but they called it logic. I remember other similar activities in middle school and high school such as when we acted out directions EXACTLY as someone had written. The thinking concisely and with order was great fun and challenging! I loved it before I went to college and through a variety of twists and turns in my academic life, I ended back at (now known as) computer science.

The recent exciting news of being able to visualize a black hole because of an algorithm developed by a team lead by computer scientist Katie Bouman has certainly captured my imagination. If you’ve had the chance to read more about Katie, she credits her love of computing from her high school experiences. In graduate school, she didn’t even know what a black hole was but once she got involved, she was hooked on figuring out how computing could capture all of the data and integrate this information from the many different telescopes to produce an image. “If you study things like computer science and electrical engineering, it’s not just building circuits in your lab,” she says. “You can go out to a telescope at 15,000 feet above sea level, and you can use those skills to do something that no one’s ever done before.” (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/12/katie-bouman-helped-generate-the-first-ever-photo-of-a-black- hole.html)

Encouraging more students to try computing is one of the reasons I volunteer my time working with CSTA. I believe it’s K-12 that guides us to identifying what we find challenging and rewarding. Another organization that I have worked with extensively is National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). While their primary focus is on girls and women in computing, many of their resources are applicable and valuable to all. For the K-12 audience, they have whitepapers with research references, podcast that are appropriate for high school students, tool kits which can help you organize events, great information in language that
everyone can understand, etc.


Some favorites include:


Communicating Research-based Interventions to Change Agents– to support the use of evidence-based interventions by change leaders;

Top 10 Ways to Engage School Counselors as Allies in the Effort to Increase Student Access to Computer Science Education and Careers – School counselors are eager to direct students to viable education and career opportunities. Consider these key points for collaboration as you
plan to meet with counselors to discuss ways their professional responsibilities align with your goals to increase student access to computing;

Computer Science Professional Development Guide – this computer science (CS) Guide not only empowers teachers, but also inspires students;

Computer Science-in-a-Box: Unplug Your Curriculum (2018 Update) – Computer Science-in-a- Box: Unplug Your Curriculum introduces fundamental building blocks of computer science — without using computers. Use it with students ages 9 to 14 to teach lessons about how
computers work, while addressing critical mathematics and science concepts such as number systems, algorithms, and manipulating variables and logic.

There are many many more resources of all forms that target the many facets of the K-12 world. The NCWIT website (NCWIT.org) has an easily searchable K-12 resource section. Take some time and take a look. I’ll bet you’ll find some interesting things.

We are lucky to be living in a time where computing plays such an important role in our daily lives. We’re even luckier to be able to help student learn just how cool computing can be!