Getting Ready for @CSEDWeek and Your #HourOfCode

 

The Computer Science Education Week (@CSEdWeek) is coming up at the beginning of December -- from the 4th - 10th to be exact -- and with it, the largest learning event in history from Code.org: #HourOfCode.

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As a proud regional partner of Code.org, we at mindSpark Learning are excited to share some resources, activities and compelling research that will help you prepare for Computer Science Education Week, and your own Hour of Code.

First of all, let’s get into why computer science is important.

Why is Computer Science Important?

An Industry That is Growing Exponentially in the U.S.

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Did you know?

  • The average annual salary for computing occupations in Colorado (CO) is $98,597?
  • With the 13,517 computing jobs open in CO, there is $1,332,735,649 in current available salary for computing jobs.
  • Nationwide, there are 490,432 computing occupations available, and $48,355,123,904 in available salary to those receiving the same average annual salary as those in CO.

In CO alone, there is over a billion dollars in available salary to those who choose a computing occupation, and nationwide there is over $48 billion in available salaries for those averaging the same annual salary as CO. In essence, computer science will play a large role in future careers of students as it is already the number 1 source of all new wages in the U.S.; yet, fewer than half of U.S. schools offer any computer science courses and only 8% of STEM graduates study it.

It’s not just about the numbers either. Students who study computer science are also gaining necessary skills like:

  • Computational thinking
  • An understanding of logic
  • Critical thinking for problem-solving
  • A general awareness of technology and its relevance to career readiness

Make no mistake, computing is a part of virtually every career available, and in the future our students will encounter a continued increase in the amount of jobs that demand, at the very least, a basic knowledge in computer science -- it already makes up two thirds of all projected new jobs in STEM fields.

Compelling enough? The fact of the matter is, technology is already everywhere and its impact will only continue to evolve and become more relevant. It’s the future of our students, and they need to be prepared for those futures.

How can you start during preparing them during this year’s Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code? You can of course sign up for your own Hour Of Code, here, and we also have some ideas you may consider below.

Computer Science For All Ages And All Levels Of Expertise

Free Computer Science Curriculums: Fundamentals for Elementary Students, Discoveries for Middle School Students and the Principles for High School Students

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If you’re thinking to yourself “there’s no way I can teach computer science in my class or bring this to my school because I don’t know anything about the subject,” then you are not alone. In fact, most educators who teach the curriculums we’re going to recommend have never taught computer science before.

You can also try the courses first to make sure they fit well with your current lesson plans and that you do some of the learning before taking it on with your students. You can decide which lessons to use, and intersperse them throughout the year, or just spend one day dedicated to computer science.

If you’re an educator in an elementary school, check out these lessons for your students on Computer Science Fundamentals. The link has more information on implementation, and on courses built for specific grade levels.

If you’re an educator in a middle school, then these lessons on Computer Science Discoveries are a great way to take computer science awareness to the next level in your school or classroom. Click the link for more information on lessons built for specific areas of study.

And, if you’re in a high school, you can check out these lessons for Computer Science Principles that can even work for AP classes. The link has more information on courses that are meant to be applied to specific industry areas, and help students take the next step toward considering a computer science degree while in college.

If you’re a K-12 principal, then you may want to look into all three and see what works best for your school, and your teachers.

The point is, computer science is more accessible than you may think, and engaging your students with lessons on computer science is free and easy. You can prepare for Computer Science Education Week and your Hour Of Code today by bringing the lessons above to your school or classroom, at any level.

What Are Some Apps, Activities And “Unplugged” Resources You Can Use?

Leverage Students’ Penchant for Curiosity

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As computer science awareness continues to grow, so do the amount of resources, apps and activities associated with computer science.

Major organizations like Google and Apple have taken on the initiative to engage their computer science audience. Some organizations have taken the robotics craze and melded it with computer science awareness to use robotics as a means to learning about computer science. There are also “unplugged” activities that can be used either in tandem with online activities, or on their own to engage students in computer science.

There are also ways to increase awareness around computer science for girls, and you can even task families to take on computer science together, putting the initiative in the hands of those that are often marginalized as computer science grows in popularity.

Let’s take a look:

  1. Google CS First offers more free curriculum and activities for teachers, students and parents alike. Start the initiative, and engage the children in your life, with theme-based projects that transcend the traditional landscape of STEM computer science by exploring computer science in areas like art, sports and fashion, to name a few.

  2. Apple’s Everyone Can Code, is another great resource for teachers and parents who want to introduce their children to coding in a quick and easy way. There are varying levels and entry points, so coding and computer science can be as easy or as challenging as you want it to be.

  3. Check out some robotics resources like Sphero, Dash and Dot and Ozobots for varying ways to bring coding, computer science and robotics together. The robots offer not only an entertaining way to interact with computer science, but they also offer a relevant medium for the application of computer science. Each link above provides different robotics options, so explore them all to see what is likely the most suitable option for your learning environment.

  4. Osmo is another great resource that can be used on iPads and iPhones to take computer science beyond the screen and make it a hands-on interactive experience that can be viewed on the screen.

  5. Code.org also has a great list of “unplugged” lessons you can use in your learning environment whether you have computers or not.

  6. Girls Who Code is a great way to reach the girls who may be interested in computer science but feel that interest in the subject is dominated by boys.

  7. Finally, check out Family Code Night if you’re looking to get families involved in computer science at your school.

These resources are just the tip of the iceberg, as more and more computer science initiatives, apps and activities crop up every day. As you’re preparing for Computer Science Education Week and your Hour of Code, consider utilizing some of these resources en route to authentic student discovery around the importance of computer science.

Takeaway

The necessity for computer science continues to grow in the U.S. and the awareness around it is starting to catch up; however, you can continue to focus on its importance by getting your students engaged with the lessons, activities, apps and resources in this blog.

Furthermore, if you’re an educator or parent in Colorado, consider contributing to the Colorado standards around computer science by taking part in the Standards Review and Revision -- Public Feedback that Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is opening to everyone; in other words, you can be part of creating the standards around computer science for Colorado students.

Thanks for stopping by! If you have any comments, suggestions or musings drop us a line in the comment section below.

P.S. Get More Involved In Computer Science With Some Options Below:

 

Check Out The Free Community Event

If you’re interested in learning more about computer science for your children or students as a parent or educator, check out the free Computer Science Community Event on December 6th at mindSpark Learning in Lakewood, CO.

Join Our Year 2 Computer Science Cohort

If you’re interested in professional learning around computer science -- to take your understanding of it as a subject to the next level and engage your students with computer science -- click the button below to learn more.

 
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