Information technology drives our global economy, underlies recent advances in science and engineering, and promises transformational approaches to our world’s most serious challenges, including health care, education and conservation. Yet, collectively, a smaller percentage of American high school students take computer science courses today than did 20 years ago.
To help ensure that more high school students are prepared to pursue postsecondary education in computer science, the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded the College Board a four-year, $5.2 million grant to fund the creation of AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP).
The new course will introduce students to programming but will also give them an understanding of the fundamental concepts of computing, its breadth of application and its potential for transforming the world we live in. Set to debut nationwide in the fall of 2016, the new AP computer science course was a subject of intensive study at Kean University’s recent CS4HS workshop.
The 4th annual CS4HS@Kean workshop for high school math and computer science teachers included participants from Georgia, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. CS4HS receives annual funding from Google's CS4HS program. Thanks to the generosity of various sponsors, this professional development event was offered at no charge to attendees who received continuing-ed credits and a small stipend for their participation.
CS4HS@Kean is part of a national effort to improve high school computer science education. The program included sessions focused on App Inventor, CS Careers, CS Unplugged and a special session on the Beauty and Joy of Computing conducted by Dan Garcia and Brian Harvery, senior lecturers at the University of California – Berkeley.
High school students who do not have the opportunity to take a computer science course in high school are really locked out of many, many career paths and professional opportunities,” said Dr. Patricia Morreale, PI on the grant and a faculty member in Kean University”s Department of Computer Science. “Kean University is well-acquainted with this challenge, as both the BS in Computer and BS in Information Technology degree programs regularly accept students without prior computer science or information technology experience and graduate them 4 years later as talented newcomers to the profession,” observed Morreale.
Unlike other more static disciplines CS is constantly evolving. “Overall, the biggest challenge for CS educators is keeping up on the dynamic, changing field of computer science,” said Morreale. Kean continues to incorporate emerging technologies, such as cloud computing, virtual reality, and cyber security, into their CS curriculum. The workshop’s participants collectively influence thousands of college-bound students annually. CS4HS reflects Kean’s ongoing commitment to excellence in teacher education.