Ways to Get Students Interested in Computer Science
Computer science is too often defined by what it’s not. Students, teachers, and administrators frequently characterize computer science as a discipline dominated by people who stare at screens, mindlessly inputting reams of arcane code, or geniuses who thwart bank heists and assassinations. Others believe that mastering office applications or producing a webpage form the core of computer science education.
In reality, students in my class learn to develop computational thinking skills. Using a computer to solve real-world problems does indeed require becoming familiar with acronyms, mastering some basic algorithms, and writing commands in Qbasic or other languages.
However, the most critical skills that students will be expected to master involve collaboration, presentation, and knowing how to break a task down into its essential steps.
By approaching computer science as a flexible tool that is vital in many disciplines, students will appreciate how learning to program can benefit them in whatever career path they chose. Teachers in all content areas can also see the value in integrating computer science principles in their practice.
Here are some tricks for getting students to enroll in computer science classes—or engage them in computational thinking in your own classroom.
1)Hour of Code
This annual, worldwide event seeks to expose students to the basic steps in writing a computer program. Developed by Code.org, Hour of Code requires no special training or installation of software. Virtually any computer with a web browser is suitable.
If you feel ambitious, numerous other tutorials are available to expand upon the lessons in the Hour of Code. Even if you’re not a computer science teacher, every one of your students can benefit from learning how to code. Coding teaches logical thinking skills, while programming encourages collaboration as students share and refine their code.
2) Build a Really Cool Computer
When I was in high school, I built plastic body models that allowed me to understand and learn anatomy.I have seen students in a variety of disciplines become inspired to build their own computer to fill a particular need. Artists may want a system to manipulate digital images and musicians can mix their own compositions. One of my former students wanted a computer to help with a bioinformatics project he was doing for a science fair.
4) Computers in Content Areas
This has allowed me to bring programming into classrooms and show students how computers can be a great tool for their learning.
– By Ashwadi Nair