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April 18, 2019

Normalizing Computer Science in Schools

In a constantly changing world, it is essential to recognize how to best prepare students for the future ahead of them. The students we work with at the Code Naturally Academy are all part of Generation X, a group which is being faced with a quickly evolving future. In fact, 65 % of them will be working in jobs that do not yet exist. Most of these future careers will be in fields closely related to programming and Computer Science. Across the country, 84% of parents and 71% of teachers believe that Computer Science education is as important or more important than traditional topics like Math, History, and English. Though parents and teachers want to see  21st century, STEM focused curriculum in use, currently, only 40% of K-12 principals across the country report that their schools have some sort of Computer Science classes.

Some interesting data about Gen Z – read more at Robert Half

We recognize the need to raise this number, and so do educators across the United States. Computer science education is quickly becoming part of five year education plans in more and more states. With these plans comes a need for funding, and big companies are making it happen. Amazon has committed money to implementing Computer Science education in Washington. Microsoft has committed money to Wyoming after education groups voted to make Computer Science mandatory by 2023. These companies along with others are making necessary contributions to support the next generation of programmers and beyond that will be working at their companies.

Many schools that don’t offer Computer Science already claim that the reason was because they did not have a qualified teacher to do so. Code Naturally hopes to aid  in this struggle. Besides developing an easy to use app focused around creativity and coding, we’ve also developed a curriculum to go along with it, and are in the process of publishing our first student workbook and e-course to make training accessible for all teachers. We also hope to balance out the diversity gaps in Computer Science. Code Naturally has previously teamed up with Looker to provide scholarships for girls in Computer Science. We hope to continue pursuing partnerships with companies that look to even the playing field for all students in Computer Science.

In our local community, Code Naturally is working to give students in the Santa Cruz community a head start that will aid them in the future that is presenting itself for them. The Code Naturally Academy is seeking to increase the number of students who are exposed to programming by bringing Computer Science enrichment  classes across Santa Cruz County. Our goal is not only to teach students to code, but also to set them up to be successful in the future. Even if our students do not choose to move forward with a career in Computer Science or programming, we aim for them to leave our programs as more empathetic and determined students. Programming can improve other skills outside of the immediate realm of Computer Science. We know that the problem solving skills that are practiced while programming help students become more patient. Typing out code allows them to practice typing and spelling skills. Working on a coordinate grid gives students practice finding coordinates and navigating a grid. All of this comes together to give them a better understanding of how the technology they love and use is created. They leave our classes understanding that they can play a roll in improving existing tech and creating new innovations through taking on big problems. Even if they might not be programming the solution, their understanding will allow them to work productively with a team of creative designers, programmers, and engineers to realize their big ideas.

Thanks for reading,

Mackenzie Baughman

Executive Director

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