It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Computer Science Education Week, when we bring the joy of computing to people of all ages through community outreach, events and hands-on activities. Last year, we featured an Hour of Code with UW President Ana Mari Cauce; this year, we are joining the White House and organizations across the country in pursuing a variety of strategies to make computer science education available to all.
We kicked off the festivities with our annual Computing Open House on Saturday. More than 400 middle and high school students, parents and teachers descended upon the Paul G. Allen Center to explore computer science and computer engineering through interactive demos and lab tours arranged through our K-12 outreach program, DawgBytes. Participants also had the opportunity to learn about computing careers by talking with industry representatives about what they do and why they love doing it.
We are following that up today with several sessions of the Hour of Code organized by Code.org. First, the students in Principal Lecturer Stuart Reges’ introductory CS courses — and there are more than 1,000 students enrolled this quarter — invited friends and family who have never tried programming before to join them in Kane Hall to do the Hour of Code. Later, CSE student ambassadors will join representatives of Google at the Girls in Science Hour of Code event hosted by the UW’s Burke Museum to talk with the students about what it’s like to study and work in computer science.
These activities are part of a wider effort by UW CSE to amplify our outreach — particularly to diverse communities — to encourage participation in computer science and increase access for underrepresented students. For example, the aforementioned CSE Ambassadors program is an expansion of our old tour guide program. The new ambassadors, all current CSE majors, will play a more active role in our outreach efforts by designing and leading workshops and other activities on the UW campus and in K-12 classrooms around the state to encourage students of all backgrounds to pursue computer science.
We are also partnering with the Washington State Academic RedShirt (STARS) program through the UW College of Engineering to prepare more high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds to succeed in CSE. As part of that effort, we are developing a series of courses to complement our introductory programming classes, which will help STARS students hit the ground running as they begin to explore CSE. We are also working with the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program to encourage more students of low- and middle-income backgrounds to apply to CSE through application workshops and other strategies.
Calling 2016 “a year of action in support of computer science,” the White House is highlighting our efforts — and many other initiatives around the nation — as part of its CS Education Week celebration.
Learn more about the great work being done to expand CS for all in the White House fact sheet here. Learn about the UW’s Girls in Science event here, and try the Hour of Code for yourself here. Check out photos from our Computing Open House below and on the DawgBytes Facebook page here.
Happy Computer Science Education Week to all!