Published:  October 2015,  Issue: Vol. 27/No.9, Download as PDF

Archive of articles published in the October 2015, Vol. 27/No.9 issue.

Excitement Around K-12 CS Education, but There’s Work to be Done by the CS Community


Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that every public school in New York City, from elementary through high school, must offer computer science (CS) courses to all students within 10 years. It is estimated that fewer than 10% of schools in New York City currently offer a CS course, and only 1% of students take such a class. Computer science will not be required of all students, but the opportunity to take a CS course will be available in every school.

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Exploring Computer Science: Active Learning for Broadening Participation in Computing


An opinion piece published in The New York Times entitled “Are College Lectures Unfair?” provides a clue to the persistent gender and race gaps in computer science [1]. The author, Annie Murphy Paul, poses several provocative questions: “Does the college lecture discriminate? Is it biased against undergraduates who are not white, male, and affluent?” She proceeds to explain how a growing body of research shows that “the lecture is not generic or neutral, but a specific cultural form that favors some people while discriminates against others, including women, minorities, and low-income first generation college students.” Paul then contrasts the lecture with active learning, where students construct knowledge through hands-on problem solving, engaging with the material through group work, collaborative thinking, and where students anchor their learning in knowledge they possess and cultural references with which they are familiar. For educators of computer science, a field that has been largely taught through lecture and direct instruction, research supporting active inquiry-based learning should give everyone pause to reflect and discuss.

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NSF/CISE Plays Leadership Role in New Federal Smart Cities Initiative


On Monday, Sept. 15th, National Science Foundation (NSF) Director, Dr. France Córdova, joined other federal science leaders at the White House, including the President’s Science Advisor, Dr. John Holdren, and U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Ms. Megan Smith, to help kick off a new government-wide Smart Cities Initiative. NSF’s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) is pleased to be playing a leadership role in this initiative.