What is CS? I am passionate about sharing my interest in Computer Science, 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 about it. It is important to spread the word about what CS really is 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.
Broadening Participation to Women in CS: 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 coordinated the El Paso NCWIT AiC affiliate between 2011 and 2018 (El Paso-Las Cruces until 2015). Since then, I led the UTEP/NMSU/EPCC Google eCSR (for explore Computer Science Research) initiative that aimed to introduce undergraduate female students to research in computing through a series of annual events (2018-19 and 2019-20).
Computational Thinking in K-12: 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 (including outside technical areas). Just like we study biology, physics, languages that we may never get to practice outside of school, Computer Science and computational thinking are important elements that should be part of the K-12 curricula. By organizing or participating in events for K-12 students, I aim to provide some experience to students in CS.
Teachers: 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.
Example of my outreach activities:
- Google eCSR 2018-19 and 2019-20
- NCWIT Aspirations in Computing: El Paso Affiliate 2016-2018; 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 to K-12 teachers of the community:
- Presentations at the 2nd Annual Canutillo ISD Professional Development Conference on Building GRIT: 20180816-pres1, 20180816-pres2.
- El Paso High School on February 19, 2018: invited talk for teachers on how to integrate computational thinking in the classroom
- El Paso ISD on December 4, 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 and an updated one in 2015
- Presentations about computer science to students ranging from kindergarden to high-school
- Presentation to El Paso High School’s P-TECH program: 20220420-presentation
- Presentations to students visiting UTEP (Feb. 2018, 2017 — 05/24, 05/23, 05/15, 05/05, 04/12, 2016 — all October e-week + October middle-school visit + December elementary-school visit): presentations are available upon request but too large to be uploaded on this website.
- 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)
- [Past] Board of El Paso High School STEM and P-TECH magnet programs
- [Past] Board of advisors of Bel-Air’s T-STEM Academy
- [Past] Board of advisors of Parkland’s T-STEM Academy (since 2015)
- [Past] Board of advisors of Harmony Science Academy of El Paso (since 2012)
- [Past] Board of advisors of Eastlake High School CSE program (2015)
- [Past] Board of advisors of Saint Patrick’s Elementary and Middle School – 2013 to 2017