At last summer’s CSTA Annual Conference, Executive Director Jake Baskin announced the launch of a nationwide Computer Science Honor Society, building off of the success of CodeVA’s work in Virginia. The response from schools has been strong: to date, 128 schools across the United States have already set up a CS honor society.
This national program supported by CSTA helps high schools offering CS courses to grow and gain visibility for their CS programs, while fostering enthusiasm for computing and recognizing academic achievement among CS students. Honor societies promote the core values of equity, service, and excellence — recognizing that any student has the potential to grow and excel in computing, empowering members to become ambassadors of CS through community service, and promoting scholarship in CS coursework. If your school has not yet established an honor society, there are many reasons why you should consider doing so.
My last CSTA Advocate post “7 things for CS teachers to know” shared the themes cited by Google employees about how their school teachers created positive CS learning environments. These included encouraging and recognizing students, making CS concepts relevant, and promoting collaboration among peers. Through a CS honor society, you can act on all of these themes and provide an outlet for what students learn in class, making the learnings real and applicable. Honor societies can also help instill a sense of belonging and community among students excited about CS.
Specifically, the community service component of societies offers unique opportunities for students to serve as role models and peer instructors to others, which helps to retain student interest in computing and broaden access to CS learning opportunities to more students. Recently, in celebration of CSEdWeek, CSTA and Google partnered to sponsor CS honor societies in hosting Hour of Code sessions in their schools and districts. Over 800 society members from more than 30 honor societies participated, using CSTA’s CSEdWeek Outreach Toolkit to share introductory CS experiences with over 11,000 elementary, middle and high school students. You can find photos from some of these events on Twitter. One of my personal favorites was this video from Henrico County Public School showing student-led activities using Code.org’s Hour of Code, Microbits, and offline lessons to teach binary.
If you’re thinking about establishing a Computer Science Honor Society at your school, know that CSTA provides support through sharing best practices, resources, sample service projects, student recruitment materials, and more. Learn more about how to get started here.