This week, the students of CCHS pulled out their laptops on a pursuit to dip their toes into the fastest growing industry in the country. December 4 to December 8 was Computer Science Week at CCHS, during which students of every grade level were invited to participate in an hour of coding.
“Based on the direction our generation is moving in, learning computer programming will be like learning how to read a book,” Robotics Club President Madison Worley said. “It’s going to be a necessary skill.”
Computer Science Week grew from a county-wide initiative to raise awareness of the importance of computer science. This initiative, called “Broward Codes,” is meant to increase interest in computer science (CS) career paths and create opportunities for students to access computer science courses and resources at school.
While this is meant to emphasize the importance of the information technology (IT) industry, it also promotes the benefits that computer science can have for anyone. This includes the problem-solving skills and creativity that can prepare students for any future career, whether it is in computer science or not.
To increase awareness for Computer Science Week, a handout was given to students in their personalization class. This handout provided information as to why an education in computer science is beneficial. For example, the front page of the handout stated that “computing jobs are the number one source of new wages in the United States.” Along with this, it stated information about the steep lifetime earnings of a CS major, as well as the rapid rate of growth of jobs in the CS industry.
“There are so many great and free resources to begin learning that make IT seem way less complicated,” Worley said. “Not to mention it’s a skill that is in demand across the job market that pays extremely well.”
Along with the information provided on this handout, students were also invited to try out coding in their personalization classes. Teachers provided students with a few different links to explore in order to try out coding. These websites taught students the basics of coding while mixing them with pop culture references, such as Star Wars and Flappy Bird.
When students completed these activities, they were invited to visit hourofcode.com/us/beyond to continue their computer science education. This website provides students with a multitude of resources such as a way to find local CS classes, online tutorials, computer science apps and games that teach programming and coding.
Although this is the first year that CCHS has participated in the week of code, efforts to increase computer science in all Broward County Schools have been going on for years. In 2013, BCPS became the first school district in the entire country to partner with code.org to bring computer science to schools. Since then, BCPS has become Regional Partners with code.org. Together, they have increased funding for computer science, largely increased the number of computer science teachers, and brought a wide variety of CS classes to grades K-12. This progress only continues with Broward Codes, which is projected to bring CS opportunities to over 50,000 students.
CCHS has reaped the benefits and contributed to these efforts by offering a huge range of CS classes to students. These classes include three Robotics classes, a Computer Science Discoveries course and two AP Computer Science classes. Many students at CCHS continue their love for programming and computer science after school by participating in the Robotics Club.
Due to Broward County’s efforts, it has been spotlighted by the White House as a national model for expanding computer science access. Along with this, BCPS received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a STEM curriculum in all schools. With this grant, used for the 2016-17 school year and beyond, CCHS and BCPS will continue to expand computer science and STEM opportunities, leading to a brighter future for all students.
Photo courtesy of http://browardschools.com/browardcodes