Last Thursday (4/7/2016) I spoke at the 2016 NYC CS Fair. Their number one goal is to encourage public high school students who study CS to stick with it, by showcasing all the great opportunities that await them should they pursue a career there. I talked about being a hacker, how to negotiate CS studies in higher education, the difference between CS and software engineering, and the importance of a good mentor. It was a great group of kids, and if even 25% of them go on to become CS students, I think the industry is going to see some positive change.
The CS Fair is put on by CSNYC, with the mission of “Computer Science for all”. One of the reasons I support csnyc is that I believe it actually has a chance of moving the needle for diversity in tech. My personal belief is the only way to make meaningful, lasting change in this area is to get kids excited about the field earlier and earlier. The more children think of CS as their thing, the more they can resist the fear, negative pressure, or bias they contend with, pushing them them to drop it.
In order to get kids excited about computer science, a few things need to happen, but the most interesting one to me at the moment is bootstrap. Bootstrap is a program that integrates a math and computer science curriculum that is meant to drop into an existing math class and be a better way to teach concepts like functions and variables, while also learning computer science. There are quite a few schools starting to use bootstrap, and I’m trying to help drive adoption. Others are doing way better and more than me, but I’ll keep trying anyway. If you’re involved in CS education, leave me a comment. How can I help?