Reaching future computer scientists

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The workshop has become a regular campus event, with both high school teachers and university faculty looking forward to it and thinking about what should be included in the workshop agenda. The future teachers enjoy attending the workshop, and feel the chance to meet working teachers is an added benefit, as ideas about curriculum design, classroom projects, and the use of Web sites in lessons can be discussed and valuable feedback received. Current computer science and information technology majors enjoy volunteering at the event and answering questions about their own preparation prior to university and their experience once on campus. This has served to personalize the 'computer science student' to the high school teachers in such a way that they can share with their students, when they return to their high school, what a computer science major really works on and how he or she got to that point. We strongly advocate universities and colleges hosting one-day high school teacher workshops. By doing so, we've been able to update and enhance many of the ideas current high school faculty have regarding applications of computers in the sciences and the utility of computational thinking in high school. Additionally, by including future teachers currently obtaining their certification, a new generation of teachers is provided with demonstrations, lessons, and applications of technology that can be used in the classroom to engage students in computational thinking and excite a new generation of computer scientists. While the multiday workshop model is outstanding, many teachers cannot spare the time to attend, or are geographically remote from such offerings. The one-day model, offered annually or bi-annually with a rotating curriculum, offers professional development and community building to regional high-school math, science, and computer science teachers which is vital to the encouragement of future generations of students. The effectiveness of the workshop in the high school community is rated highly as increasing awareness of opportunities in computing and information technology at the local university. Teachers are now suggesting to their students that they consider majoring in computer science or information technology and consider the local university. With firsthand knowledge of the faculty, resources, and facilities, this recommendation is of the highest order. A tracking project to identify students recruited to the major through their teacher's workshop experience is under way. Future plans include continuing with the teacher workshops, and hosting students nominated by teachers who attend the workshops during a summer academy for computational thinking and computer science. Teachers from the workshops held during the academic year will apply to be teaching fellows at the summer academy, during which time they will gain experience in using the demonstrations and modeling tools discussed and illustrated at the workshop with the students attending the summer academy, providing further expertise for the teachers before they return to their own high school classrooms to put into practice what they have seen. © 2011 ACM.

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Communications of the ACM

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