SIGCSE is the annual conference for the special interest group of ACM that is focused on computer science education. It is always a great event, and if you have never attended, you should put it on your radar for next year! CSTA Board Members and Chapter members will be a presence at SIGCSE this year in many different ways.

Here’s where you can find us:

CSTA Booths #116 and 118 in the Exhibitor Hall.

Helping to pull the whole awesome affair together are John Dougherty (CSTA-Phila) and Ria Galanos (CSTA-VA).


Teaching to Diversity in Computer Science from 1:00pm – 4:30pm with Helen Hu (CSTA-UT).

CS Teaching Tips Tip-A-Thon from 1:00pm – 4:00pm with Stephanie Hoeppner (CSTA Board Member) and many others.


NSF showcase – Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning in CS with Clif Kussmaul (CSTA-Phila), Helen Hu (CSTA-UT) and Daniel Libby.

Computer Science Principles Curricula: On-the-ground, Adoptable, Adaptable, Approaches to Teaching from 1:45pm – 3:00pm with Owen Astrachan (CSTA-Triangle East), Jeff Gray (CSTA-AL) and others.

Supporting the Computer Science Learning Process from 3:45pm – 5:00pm with Pat Yongpradit (CSTA-MD) and others.

BOF – Computer Science Principles: Expanding the Community from 5:30pm –  6:20pm with Owen Astrachan (CSTA-Triangle East), Fran Trees (CSTA Chapter Liaison), Rich Kick (CSTA-Southern CA) and others.

BOF – What Math is the Right Math for Computing? from 5:30pm – 6:20pm with John Dougherty (CSTA-Phila).

BOF – Teaching Algebra and Computing through Bootstrap and Program by Design from  5:30pm – 6:20pm with Emmanuel Schanzer (CSTA member)

BOF – Teaching Algebra and Computing through Bootstrap and Program by Design from 5:30pm – 6:20pm with Emmanuel Schanzer (CSTA member)

BOF – Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) in Computer Science from 5:30pm – 6:20pm with Clif Kussmaul (CSTA-Phila) and Helen Hu (CSTA-UT) and others.

BOF – Partnering to Promote State-by-State Computing Education Reform from 6:30pm – 7:20pm with Barb Ericson (CSTA-GA).

BOF – Addressing Professional Development Needs for K-12 CS – Working with Your Local CSTA Chapter  from 6:30pm – 7:20pm with Dave Reed (CSTA Board Chair-Elect) and Fran Trees (CSTA Chapter Liaison).


Using POGIL Activities to Teach CS Principles to Diverse Students, a Poster by Helen Hu (CSTA-UT)

A Case Study on Adding Computer Science as a Math Graduation Elective: A Report from the Alabama CS/Mathematics Crosswalk Committee, a Poster by Jeff Gray, et al (CSTA-AL)

Research, Resources and Communities: Informal Ed as a Partner in Computer Science Education, a panel with Irene Lee (CSTA Chair Computational Thinking Task Force) from 10:45am – noon

Papers: Focus on K-12 Professional Development with Chinma Uche (CSTA-CT), Terry Harvey and Lori Pollock (CSTA-DE) and Deepa Muralidhar (CSTA-GA) from 1:45pm – 3:00pm

One-Day Activities for K-12 Face-to-Face Outreach (Panel) on Friday from 3:45pm – 5:00pm. Barb Ericson (CSTA-GA) and Jeff Gray (CSTA-AL) are on the panel.

Perspectives on Adopting and Facilitating Guided Inquiry Learning with Helen Hu (CSTA-UT), Clif Kussmaul (CSTA-Phila) and Deepa Muralidhar (CSTA-GA) from 3:45pm – 5:00pm.

Conducting Educational Research in the Computer Science Classroom: Choosing the Appropriate Research Design to Address your Research Questions from 7:00pm – 10:00pm with Aman Yadav (CSTA Board Member)

How to Plan and Run Summer Computing Camps – Logistics #14 from 7:00pm – 10:00pm with Barb Ericson (CSTA-GA)

Small or Liberal Arts Colleges Adapting to CS2013: Making it Work from 7:00pm – 10:00pm with Dave Reed (CSTA Board Chair-Elect)

The Internet, Creativity and Global Impact: Curriculum Modules from 7:00pm – 10:00pm with Andrew Kuemmel (CSTA-WI) and Rich Kick (CSTA-Southern CA)

Infusing Cooperative Learning into Early Computer Science Courses to Support Improved Engagement from 7:00pm – 10:00pm with Jeff Gray (CSTA-AL), Fran Trees (CSTA Chapter Liaison), Owen Astrachan (CSTA-Triangle East)


App Inventor Breakfast is co-hosted by Fred Martin (CSTA Board Member)

Scaling High School Computer Science: Exploring Computer Science and Computer Science Principles from 9:00am – 10:15am with Owen Astrachan (CSTA-Triangle East), Jeff Gray (CSTA-AL), and others.

Decoding CS Principles – A Curriculum from Code.org from 3:00pm – 6:00pm with Baker Franke (CSTA-Chicago) and Pat Yongpradit (CSTA-MD)


CSEdWeek – Looking Back and Looking Ahead

And so we begin a new year. A time to reflect. I have been reflecting on my activities for CSEdWeek. Since the first CSEdWeek in December 2009, I have celebrated the week on my campus trying different activities each year.

For the first CSEdWeek in 2009, I was able to arrange for an after school walking field trip to a nearby business, Hydraflow. It was exciting to see the expressions on my students’ faces as they toured the business and listened to how the company had gone completely paperless!

For the CSEdWeek in 2010, I wanted to do more! I was able to arrange for a walking field trip to Raytheon during the school day. The students were amazed at the “trailer” where equipment was set up to demonstrate a disaster and how Raytheon had built a system where different law enforcement agencies could “talk” to each other even though they were using various type of hardware. A parent from my school also graciously arranged for some employees from his company to speak to my students about how computer science had opened up opportunities for them.

For CSEdWeek 2011 the students once again had the opportunity to tour Raytheon and visit the “trailer” again as well as the outdoor mock-up of a toll system. I also arranged for a student ambassador from University of California, Irvine to visit the class and discuss his experiences as a computer science student in college.

For CSEdWeek 2012, I had asked the school board for my district to recognized CSEdWeek. They agreed to do that and I was asked to select two students to be honored at a board meeting. It was a difficult decision to only select two, but I was happy that I could have these students recognized! Raytheon tour was also a highlight of the week. The students appreciated meeting the wife of one of the school’s science teachers during the Raytheon tour. Additionally, one of my former students dropped by school and spoke to the students about her career working in the CS Field.

Last year we celebrate Hour of Code during CSEdWeek. The local community college assisted with advertising for our community event. There were about 30 community members that attended the event with the computer science students assisting them. Several students commented to me about how much they enjoyed helping others to learn to code. I also held a lunch time birthday party for the students at the high school to celebrate Grace Hopper’s birthday. The school board also recognized CSEdWeek and I selected two students to be recognized.

This year the CS students participated in a community Hour of Code event. I asked the local school principals to advertise the event on their webpages. There was such an overwhelming response that I had to shut down the Eventbrite Site. I continued to receive emails from parents that wanted to attend with their children. They were invited to attend. There were enough reservations to fill two classrooms. I was concerned about supervision until the online teacher contacted me and offered to help. My husband also stopped by and offered his help. We were ready to go! I had set up a poster on smore.com with choices for activities that students could use on the computers in the computer lab. You can view my poster at https://www.smore.com/180ce

Pic1 Pic2 Pic3

In addition to the successful Hour of Code event, the students were able to connect with a Skype employee through Skype in the Classroom program. You can set up a session at https://education.skype.com/. The speakers were great and very patient answering the students’ questions.

The district school board also celebrated CSEd Week at the school board meeting. This year I was able to select three students to be honored. The school principal took picture of the event and uploaded them to the school’s Facebook page.

The week ended with a birthday celebration at lunch. All students were invited and the CS students served cake and assisted the students with Hour of Code activities.

I am looking ahead to next year’s CSEd Week. I plan to hold the community Hour of Code event in the library which the principal has already agreed to. I hope to add a Maker Faire with the help of the Engineering Classes. I will contact the principals at the local elementary and junior high schools to advertise the event and I will use Eventbrite again. Through Eventbrite, I have sent out a survey to this year’s attendees to evaluate and improve the Hour of Code event next year.

What did you plan for CS Week that was a success? I am looking for more activities to add to the week!

Myra Deister, CSTA At-large Representative

Inspired Students

Don’t you just love it when passionate people find a project and just make it happen? Isn’t it even better when the people are students passionate about CS?

I recently learned about a CS competition being organized by a group of students from around the U.S. and spearheaded by Arun Dunna, a HS junior from Atlanta, Georgia. The competition, sCTF, will be an online, week-long “capture the flag competition” for middle and high school students. The project is inspired by competitions such as PicoCTF, HSCTF, and EasyCTF.

Problems will involve a variety of programming skills and concepts including cryptography, reverse engineering, and general algorithmic problems. The team competition will take place quarterly beginning March 1, 2015.

There isn’t a lot on the website just yet, but more is promised—including prizes for the winners.

I wish them the best of luck in their venture…perhaps some of your students will participate and report back about the experience. Or better yet, maybe some of your students will see this as an inspiration to follow their passions.

Winners of Faces of Computing Contest

The Faces of Computing Video Contest was a big success.  We had over 100 entries from 20 states and 6 countries.  The idea behind the Faces of Computing Contest, both the previous poster contest and the video contest, is to represent a greaer variety of people doing computing and to dispel myths about what computing is and who can do it.  Too often in industry and in people’s minds, the “faces of computing” are white and male. The posters and videos submitted by these students show that all kinds of people enjoy computing.

The videos showcase students not only with different ethnic backgrounds represented, but also students with a wide variety of other interests in addition to Computer Science, It’s clear that CS appeals to many kinds of kids.  In the videos, there are artists and athletes, writers and math geeks, and budding computer scientists.  The students show that Computer Science really is for everyone and can be useful in a variety of fields.

The winners were hard to choose, as there were so many great entries!  I loved getting to see what other schools do in Computer Science class and hearing students talk about their CS work and their other interests.  Below are the winners’ videos.  They are really great promotions for CS.  I highly recommend showing them to your classes, to your administrators, whomever you think needs a little nudge to see CS in a different light.

Winner, High School Division

Massachusetts Academy of Math & Science
Teacher: Angela Taricco
Students: Josephine Bowen, Sarah Duquette, Jackie Forson, Ana Khovanskaya, Eva Moynihan, Amol Punjabi, Sashrika Saini, Christopher Thorne, Ryan Vereque

Winner, Middle School Division

Teacher: Idrus Tamam
Students: Uluwiyah Jatim

Winner, Elementary School Division

Hale Kula Elementary School
Teacher: Megan Cummings
Students: Kaylee Smith, Markus Langhammer-Kenan, Kaleah Shabazz, Haylee Barlow, Natalie Chastain

Fan Letter to Computer Science Teachers: You are the Coding Heroes

Posted on behalf of Elizabeth Vandenburg, GEMS Public Outreach Director and Founder of GEMS-Nova Labs Girl Makers. 

As we prepare for next week’s Computer Science Education Week as well as the “Hour of Code” initiative, Girls Excelling in Math & Science (GEMS) thanks YOU, the computer science teachers who are walking the walk every day, teaching and motivating students to pursue computer science. GEMS particularly thanks you for creating inclusive girl-friendly computer science classrooms.

Like Computer Science Teachers Association, GEMS is a NCWIT K-12 Alliance member, using and seeing results from research-based strategies to reach an important goal for gender equity in tech,  “50/50 by 2020.”

I’ve heard hundreds of great stories about what teachers do to support girls and tech. One teacher, Laura Reasoner Jones, who -founded GEMS, ran a STEM after school club in Northern Virginia for 20 years. She plastered her walls with posters of female role models. One day, a 4th grader named Maria, who ate her lunch every day with Jones, turned to the “Expect the Best From a Girl and That’s What You’ll Get” poster behind her and asked, “Do you really believe that?” When Jones replied an empathic yes, Maria stood taller. “I could tell she felt differently about herself, “ said Jones.

sphero photo

So here’s a GEMS challenge for your CSEdWeek/Hour of Code event: Tweet a photo of your girls participating during the week of December 8-14 and tag with @GirlsExcelling // #CSEdWeek. Photo ideas include girls (and boys!) holding up posters of female role models, pictures of girls’ actual STEM work, or girls participating in an Hour of Code/CSEdWeek activity. Please remember to obtain consent from your students’ legal guardian(s) prior to posting pictures.

Should you require a poster for this challenge, or just to stimulate thinking in your classroom, Code.org offers two promotional posters featuring women. Everyone who participates will be entered into a drawing for a Sphero 10 pack for your classroom!

Next week’s activities are important for the growth of computer science education, but make no mistake, your daily work is where the change happens.

CS Ed Week != Hour of Code


With the fabulous success of Hour of Code last year, I think many of us have fallen into thinking that Computer Science Education Week (CS Ed Week) is “Hour of Code week.”

As in, “What are you doing for Hour of Code?”… I actually heard myself saying that to someone.

But of course CS Ed Week is much more than introducing your students to a coding lesson.

Teachers who I know are: showcasing their students’ project work, organizing a hackathon to benefit a charitable organization, sharing their year-long curricula with parents and colleagues, and screening films about famous computer scientists.

By the way, did you know that CS Ed Week is the week that it is because Grace Hopper was born on December 9 (1906)? I just learned this.

At my university, it’s finals week. So my students will be taking finals in my two computing courses. (This seems to happen every year.) But in the prior week, they’ll be showing off their final projects to the whole department!

For more resources and ideas, go to csedweek.org/csteacher to download a “Participation Kit for Computer Science Teachers” and list your activities on an international map.

So… “What are you doing for Computer Science Education Week?”

P.S. The languages I’m using most at the moment are Scheme and App Inventor. Below is this post’s title in those languages. Both evaluate to true.

Scheme / Racket / Lisp
(not (equal? 'cs-ed-week 'hour-of-code))

MIT App Inventor


Have you been to the Summit?

One of the very most enjoyable parts of my position as Chair of the CSTA Board of Directors is attending the many functions to which I am invited to bring greetings. One such function was the National Computer Science Principles Education Summit, which was held on Wednesday, July 16, 2014; after the CSTA Annual Conference and before the CSTA board meeting. The summit was graciously sponsored by Google (and prominently powered by Google as well).

The purpose of the summit was to increase awareness, broaden understanding, and create capacity for the wide-scale adoption and on-going support of the pre-AP Computer Science Principles course. The summit was absolutely awesome. The summit had two session strands: one for administrators and one for teachers. Fifteen speakers presented different topics throughout the summit. Plenary sessions were given by Rebecca Dovi and Rich Kick and Owen Astrachan and Fran Trees. Breakout sessions for teachers and administrators included Understanding Computer Science Principles (CSP) and Resources for Teaching CSP presented by Jeff Gray, Kelly Powers, Rebecca Dovi, Barb Ericson, and Lien Diaz. An entertaining and informative flash talk session provided information about assessment, creativity, policy, and collaboration from Fran Trees, Carol Yarbrough, Andy Kuemmel, and Rich Kick.

Another highlight involved a session presented by Emmanuel Schanzer and Rebecca Dovi during which the participants divided into groups and developed and presented their action plans for implementing CSP in their schools. The summit concluded with inspiring testimonials from various attendees.

Funding limited the number of attendees to 60. There were many more applicants than session slots, so CSTA had a rigorous application process. Preference was given to teams of administrators and CS educators. On the actual day of the summit, thirty percent of attendees were administrators. Google provided support (including the technology and human capital) to share the summit proceedings with more than 300 virtual attendees—in real time.

This was a tremendous undertaking and involved the dedicated participation of many volunteers in addition to the Google professionals. Not only was the information shared during the summit interesting and informative, it was incredible to watch the intense coordination of the many volunteers who were able to actively involve the virtual participants in the summit through the use of technology and teamwork. Kudos and thanks to all volunteers! The CSP Summit was so successful, CSTA hopes to duplicate another in-conjunction event and invite virtual participation in the future.

If you were not able to attend the CS Principles Summit, you may view the summit agenda on the CS Principles Google site. At the site, you may view videos of many of the summit sessions. Further information about the CS Principles course can be found at the CSP website.

The CS Principles Summit was truly the pinnacle of teacher professional development in the 21st century. If you have not been to the summit, I invite you to visit the cited sources. I have been to the summit—thanks to Google and CSTA.

Websites and Web Resources cited:

Deborah Seehorn CSTA State Department Representative, Board Chair
Curriculum Committee Chair