New partnership to bring code into more Douglas County classrooms
DENVER - Last week at the University of Denver, Douglas County School District (DCSD) and Denver Public Schools (DPS) announced plans to expand student participation in computer science courses into dozens more schools through a partnership with Code.org.
Code.org will provide two high-quality secondary education courses – Exploring Computer Science and Computer Science Principles – at four DCSD schools.
“Our belief is that [code] is something that should be taught to students from kindergarten through twelfth-grade,” explained Jake Baskin with CODE.org “Starting from the youngest age there are core concepts in computer science that are essential to everything you do. Thinking logically and breaking down a problem is going to help you in your English class, as much as it does in your computer science class.”
The non-profit organization is focused on increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color within computer science industries.
“The sad case, because of culture and the ways that we have taught computer science in the past, we have pushed away students who could be making incredible contributions to what we make and what we’re providing to society,” Baskin said.
“This is something that girls can excel at,” added Rock Canyon senior Shivani Chauhan.
Chauhan says initially she was not excited about participating in her school’s technology program.
“There are not a lot of girls who go into computer science. I remember walking into TSA (Technology Student Association) as a freshman and walking right out because it was all these guys,” Chauhan said.
She did not end up joining TSA until her junior year, at the urging of one of her teachers, Christy Street, who has really worked to incorporate girls.
“One of the things I’ve wanted to do at Rock Canyon is be able to pass that enthusiasm, that appreciation for technology and computer science and really have those students understand and appreciate the complex logic that goes into programming,” Street said.
She says it is essential that students today understand how technology functions.
“I don’t want the students to take for granted how an app works, how a GPS system works. I think it is very important these days for our kids to have a foundation or understanding of technology,” Street said.
The goal of this new program is to ensure every student has the opportunity to learn computer programming and have access to additional science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses.
During the event, DCSD Chief Technology Officer Gautam Sethi spoke to the students, encouraging them to consider a career in technology.
“I hope that each and every one of you chooses to become a programmer. More programmers in this part of the country would make it easy for us to fill open jobs and help us create better tools for our schools. Chances of that happening are slim, as I know you will choose your individual calling – a calling which will lead you to accomplish great things.
I predict that whatever your calling, you will end up using technology – much more technology than what adults currently use.
And if you are debating whether this is the right profession for you, I can quote a ton of stats around skills shortage, future growth, higher salary scales, etc. Or you can just Google them.
Let me ask you to pause and think about a few things instead.
Imagine your world without Google, Facebook, iPad, iPhone, Android, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Many of these did not exist 10 years ago. And I am willing to bet most of you can’t imagine your world without them today. This is unprecedented in history – not one field has generated so much interest, attention and opportunities in such a short period of time.
Overlay that information with the fact that leaders responsible for building these companies and technologies did not have a structured opportunity to learn about technology in their classrooms back when they were in school.
With DCSD collaborating with Code.org to create an opportunity for our students to learn about computer programming, can you imagine what 10 years from now holds for us? I can’t wait…”
Code.org is providing daily lesson plans, activities and assessments for computer science courses.
The courses will include an emphasis on teaching students how to use coding within the computer science field, and how that skillset can equip students with the knowledge needed to tap into computer science majors and careers.
Lieutenant Governor Joseph Garcia said training like this will prepare Colorado students to compete for great jobs when they graduate.
“We’ve got these job openings that employers have, but they cannot fill, because they cannot find people with the right skills,” Garcia said. "You are the young people with the right skills, you will have those skills. Knowing how to code is important. Getting a degree is important. It will make a difference to Colorado, to our economy."
Code.org will also provide professional development opportunities for secondary teachers.