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Not Just Codes and Programming

Students Work Together on a Computer

Computers and information technology are essential to America’s economic future. But getting school officials, parents, and even students to support computer-science curricula in K-12 public schools remains a hard sell, explains Xconomy, an online tech-business magazine.

How increase the appeal of CS was a key topic of a recent three-day conference at the University of Washington’s department of computer science and engineering. Sponsored by Google, it brought together math and science teachers, and computer science professors and professionals for lectures and workshops on how to better integrate computer science into K-12 education. The key is finding ways to use technology education in all types of classes, Ed Lazowska, a  UW professor, told Xconomy.

One session focused on debunking common misconceptions. Such as: the only available jobs for CS grads are programming; there are no women in the field; only top-level math and science students need apply; and graduates end up in jobs that require 18-hour days and 60-plus-hour weeks. Lazowska also noted tthat CS career prospects are very strong, with starting salaries ranging from $60,000 to $80,000.

And forget the stereotype of the solitary computer scientist laboring in front of a monitor all day: this is a field that takes group creativity and problem-solving, speakers said. According to Tam Armstrong, a 2004 UW Computer Science Engineering grad who designs video game characters, “any time I’m architecting a system or designing a new feature, that always involves other people.”

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