I am passionate about sharing my interest in Computer Science, even just about sharing with younger students what Computer Science is. Many students still discard Computer Science as a possible career path because they do not know what it is or even worse, might have been misinformed. It is important to spread the word about CS to allow younger students to make informed decision… And if they end up deciding that CS is not for them, so be it: there are many other options. But at least, they will have decided based on their own experience and information.
Now, some students, young women in particular, might be interested in CS, but studies show that they tend to lose interest (and mostly confidence) during high school (among many other good readings on the topic, the book Unlocking the Club House, by Jane Margolis — MIT Press — was my first read on the topic and is excellent). These young women need to be supported and their aspirations and achievements acknowledged. NCWIT, the National Center for Women & IT, annually organizes a program that targets young women in high school, with interest and aspirations in computing: the Aspirations in Computing program. Although a national program, it is distributed over regional affiliates through which many participants are recruited. All participants get to be entered in both a national and regional competitions. I have coordinated the El Paso NCWIT AiC affiliate since 2011 (El Paso-Las Cruces until 2015).
Additionally, I believe that all students should be exposed to Computer Science, at the very least to computational thinking, as the latter is so useful in many areas (outside technical areas). Just like we study biology, physics, languages that we may never get to practice outside school, Computer Science and computational thinking are important elements that should be part of K-12 curricula. By organizing or participating in events for K-12 students, I aim to provide some experience to students in CS.
Finally, none of my efforts would be effective over time without the support of and buy-in of the K-12 teachers who interact with students much more consistently than I do. I also like to give presentations and hands-on workshops to teachers of the region.
- NCWIT Aspirations in Computing: El Paso Affiliate since 2016; El Paso Las Cruces affiliate from 2011 to 2015
- UTEP Engineering Nexus program: hosting high-school summer interns in my research lab (see information about Nexus on cr2g.constraintsolving.com), every summer since 2010
- Presentations about computer science to students ranging from kindergarden to high-school
- El Paso ISD on December 2017: invited talk and teachers’ sessions on how to integrate computer science and/or computational thinking activities in the classroom (with and without computers) — December 4, 2017 Presentation1, Presentation2, Presentation3
- Webinar on Code.org
- Presentation about coding in K-12 at the TnTc conference in El Paso 2015 (ask me if you’d like me to send it to you)
- Presentation about ways to integrate coding and computational thinking in your K-12 classroom at the TnTc conference in El Paso 2014
- Kindergarden presentation about Computer Science
- Other presentations (ask me if you would like me to present on a topic related to CS for K-12)