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Computer science in high school?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Computer science has advanced considerably since the first computer programming language was developed in the 1950s. Instead of using punch cards to communicate with large mainframes, coders now work on personal computers, enjoy user-friendly programming languages, and have access to extensive libraries that include algorithms for many common operations.

Here are some of the highlights from the history of computer science from 1953 – 2016:
1953 – The first computer language, COBOL, is created.
1977 – Jobs and Wozniak incorporate Apple.
1985 – Microsoft announces Windows.
1998 – Google is founded.
1999 – WiFi is introduced.
2004 – Facebook is launched.
2007 – Apple introduces the smart phone and app developers flourish.
2016 – The first reprogrammable quantum computer is created.

During this period, Gordon Moore (Intel), Steve Jobs (Apple Computer), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Steve Case (AOL), Larry Page (Google), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and many others made fortunes using zeros and ones to process and store information.

In 2017, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced development of a new “Molecular Informatics” program that moves data processing and storage to the molecular level. Instead of using zeros and ones these molecular computers would use qualities like size, orientation, and color to process and store massive amounts of data.

If the molecular approach to computing is accepted, computer science would likely shift from a discipline within electrical engineering to a specialty of chemical engineering. In addition, there would no longer be a need for traditional circuit boards and other computer components. Most, if not all, of the current computer programming languages would be obsolete.

With the possibility of such a radical change, one wonders how education needs to morph to prepare our children for the new paradigm. Sadly, it is impossible to predict the exact direction technology will take. As a result, it is impossible for schools to develop a curriculum that provides the perfect preparation for the workplace.

Rather than trying to chase each new advance, it is probably best to encourage children to build an strong understanding of foundational subjects like chemistry, physics, biology, reading, writing, speaking, and creative problem solving. This way they will have the building blocks to adapt whether computer science is electrical, biological, chemical, or some blend.

Strange as it may seem, basic is better when the pace of technological change accelerates.

Computer Science for All (Starting in Kindergarten)

Edutopia – Stephen Merrill

“Back in 2012, the idea for was just a glimmer in Hadi Partovi’s eye. He was already a successful entrepreneur—Partovi was part of the founding team that sold voice recognition pioneer Tellme Networks to Microsoft in 2007—but he was looking for something more meaningful as his next step. “Starting another start-up to make money wasn’t motivating to me,” explained Partovi in an interview on Recode, before adding that the death of Steve Jobs had him thinking about his own mortality: “Steve Jobs was 12 or 13 years older than me, and I thought ‘If I die in 13 years, what will I look back on?’” By way of an answer, Partovi launched the nonprofit with his twin brother, Ali, in 2013.” (more)

10 Hour of Code activities students will love

E-School News – Laura Ascione

“It’s that time of year again–the Hour of Code is (almost) here. The Hour of Code is just that–one hour of coding, done at any point during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 4-10). Educators can find all the information they need here, such as how to get started, which activities to choose and how to promote computer science on a regular basis.”(more)

How to introduce kindergarteners to computers

E-School News – Bethany Nill

“I work with roughly 500 kindergarten through 5th-grade students. As part of their curriculum, students receive 40 minutes each week of technology class. During the first quarter, we focus on the keyboard. Today’s students are expected to have some typing proficiency as early as kindergarten. For example, our students must be able to, at minimum, type their first and last name in order to access their devices and accounts. Our 2nd– through 5th-graders take computer-based assessments which require them to type constructed responses to questions. Learning to type is not an option for our students; it’s an essential skill.”(more)

Computational Thinking Across the Curriculum

Edutopia – Eli Sheldon

“As defined by Jeannette Wing, computational thinking is “a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior by drawing on the concepts of computer science.” To the students at my school, it’s an approach to tackling challenging questions and ambiguous puzzles. We explicitly integrate computational thinking into all of our classes, allowing students to draw parallels between what they’re learning and how they’re approaching problems across all disciplines.”(more)