UIL Contests in Texas are underway. Schools will compete in numerous Academic Events over the next 2 weeks to qualify for the UIL Regional meet. Then, they can qualify for the UIL State meet which is held at the University of Texas at Austin campus. State Champions will be crowned on May 21st and 22nd.
Students and teachers all over the state prepare for and look forward to this time of year. The contests are great and they provide a chance for students to test their skills against students from all over the state.
Computer Science is a component of the UIL Academic Program. You can find out more about the Computer Science contest by clicking here – UIL Computer Science. Check out my site to download sample UIL Computer Science tests and programming problems.
I would encourage those in Texas to get involved! If you are in another state that has no contests, you should start a Computer Science contest of your own! It is great way to build your program and get more kids involved.
Computer Science skills can be learned at any age. I have been going to my sons’ elementary school for the last 3 years at least twice a year, teaching their classes how to create games, animations, and stories. I have taught them how to use variables, loops, ifs, and lists using Scratch. All of the boys and girls in each class love it when I come out and they use the skills to create projects throughout the year. These students all think CS is cool and will have no problem taking Computer Science classes in the future as they are comfortable with the concepts and idea of writing programs. I hope that I have successfully planted the seeds for a whole crop of future Computer Scientists.
This article discusses the same idea of starting students in Computer Science early and makes some of the same points.
Teaching Kids to Hack
This is a great article ( it is not about hacking into banks ) and just shows that there are lots of kids interested in Computer Science if you find creative ways to grab their attention. It also helps to start talking to them when they are young and more open-minded.
One of the best quotes in the article says “computer science is the entry point to all science. It starts kids on the path of science, technology, math, the whole thing. It becomes cool.”
I will gladly send all three of my sons to conferences like this. I want my boys to learn how to crank code and hack stuff as soon as possible.
Tech hiring frenzy very similar to that of 1999
Prince or the artist formerly known as something like that wrote a song about 1999 back in the day. The song was not as hot as the current boom in tech jobs, but it was catchy at the time. It is unfortunately stuck in my head for the rest of the day and most likely stuck in your head as well if you just read this. iTunes has the song if you must.
Tech companies are looking for talented people and the jobs seem to be numerous. I have heard from a few University colleagues that have said that their CS enrollment is up. The two tend to go hand in hand.
NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing
“The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. Awardees are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing offers both a national and local “affiliate” competitions to generate support and visibility for women’s participation in communities nationwide. ”
September 13, 2010 is when the application process will open.
Preparing Your Application PDF - this will help to get an application ready
The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing is a great program and all Computer Science teachers should encourage all of the girls in their respective Computer Science programs to apply. We have lots of girls in the Computer Science program at my school and they will all be encouraged to participate in the application process.
One of our girls was an award winner last year and was quite honored. My high school and district recognized her accomplishment and worked very hard to publicize her award. It meant a lot to her. The other Computer Science students thought she was quite the celebrity.
CS Education Act Press Release
The link above is to the press release detailing the Computer Science Education Act.
New Bill Focuses on Lack of CS Grads
The CS Ed Act should provide a much needed focus on CS education. This article discusses the act and its possibilities. This is an interesting development and one that quite a few different groups support. Anything that can get some attention focused on Computer Science Education is a good thing and it is even better when the plan makes sense.
The article also poses the question concerning the affects standardization could have on those programs that take a more non-standard creative approach to teaching the subject. I like the reference to making the program “sexier” in the description of the Porter-Gaud CS program. I have said quite few times that Computer Science programs need to be “sexier” if you want students to sign up. Computer Science has lots to offer but learning needs to be engaging and entertaining or students are just not going to get involved.
Most High Schools Lack Quality CS Programs
This is another interesting article that kind of piggy backs on the one listed above. I spoke with Erik when he was working on the article and he makes some really nice points about the issues facing Computer Science education. He spoke to quite a few people and has some really nice data included.
Gaming Degrees in Demand
Games are very popular and most students like designing and creating games. Scratch is a platform that enables quick game creation as does the XNA platform. Game projects help get students excited about Computer Science.
As there are more and more companies creating games these days, it is much easier than in the past to find a job in the gaming industry.
CS Enrollment and CS Major Numbers Are Up
Computer Science enrollment at the University level is up. This is consistant with what I have heard from friends that teach at Universities. It also appears that those choosing CS as a major is up as well. That is good news.
It looks like the new Computer Engineer Barbie has inspired everyone to go into Computer Science.
AP CS Principles Website The AP CS Principles course website is now up and running. Information regarding the work of the commission has been posted as well as some general information on the AP Computer Science Principles course.
As as member of the commission, I think the course is coming along nicely and that it will be a course that will convey to everyone the coolness, power, and relevance of Computer Science.
The course will include programming as programming is a very fundamental component of Computer Science, but not focus only on programming.
Alfred Thompson has some cool reflections on his blog about the AP CS Principles course. His blog is a very good one to check out for all sorts of Computer Science information.
High School Computer Science season is just about to officially begin here in Texas as the UIL District Academic Meet is about to kick off. Computer Science Education in the state of Texas owes quite a bit of gratitute to UIL and the UIL Academic Contents. UIL Academic Competitions provide the venue for academic areas to compete and without them, Computer Science in Texas might likely be about as dead as it is in most other states. As UIL has a Computer Science contest, many schools have classes or at least teams in order to be a part of the UIL contest and to ensure that their respective school has entries in all events. This is very important as many Computer Science programs have grown from these seeds of competition.
The UIL Computer Science contest is a great contest and one that other states could model. The contest consists of a 40 question multiple choice test and a 12 problem two-hour programming contest. Teams compete and consist of 4 members. 3 members of the team program and all 4 take the written test.
I have been the sponsor of the Computer Science team and club at every high school at which I have taught. The Computer Science program has grown at every school at which I have taught and part of that can be attributed to the fact that we take teams to contests in Texas all year long as well as hosting our own contest. Students love to compete and want to belong to a winning tradition. Once the tradition is established, students start to pour in. Currently, there are over 450 students in Computer Science at my school and many of them are in the program as they want to compete and be the best.
Most of the Texas high school programming contests use PC^2 as their contest system.