As passionate advocates of broadening access to computer science education, especially at the high school level, Microsoft jumped at the chance to host a reception for and sponsor the Computer Science Teacher Association’s (CSTA) annual conference.
Microsoft has worked closely with the CSTA, the nation’s premier membership organization for computer science teachers, for many years and was thrilled at the chance to contribute to this year’s conference. And considering ten lucky teachers walked away with a Surface RT or an Xbox360, we have the feeling they were happy with the partnership too!
Our NERD center was packed with 160 local, national, and international computer science educators as well as several other notable figures, including Henrietta Davis, Mayor of Cambridge; Cameron Wilson, COO and VP of Government Affairs at Code.org; and Pat Yongpradit, Director of Education at Code.org. Code.org, a nonprofit organization, works to grow computer programming education and created this must-watch video on the importance of computer science education and coding (be prepared for a slew of cameos by big-name techies, athletes, and musicians alike!).
The reception was a lively affair, as the bravest teachers in attendance took to the stage for their rendition of Whose Line is It Anyway? The improv-style skits demonstrated how attendees could become advocates for expanding computer science education in their communities. Both Microsoft and Code.org stressed the need to introduce computer science as a core math or science graduation credit. Teachers also witnessed first hand how Microsoft products and technological tools (including Kodu, Small Basic, TouchDevelop, and DreamSpark, all of which are available for teachers at no charge) can enhance their classroom instruction.
With over half of STEM jobs projected to be in computing occupations by 2018 but with enrollment in advanced CS courses actually declining over the past decade, we think it’s about time that computer science education gets some attention!