Technology continues to evolve, yet this generation seems unwilling to evolve with it. True, teenagers are infatuated with the newest iPhone, but only the lucky few actually have an interest in its inner workings. This is largely due to an under-emphasis on technology. Computer science is nothing more than a vague concept for many students. In a media-dominated culture that idolizes athletes and entertainers, computer science may not seem glamorous or worthwhile to students. In short, athletic and cultural groups reign; academic activities fall to the wayside.
When schools make computer science fun and relevant, it becomes a tangible and desirable possibility for students. Kids who love playing video games might be interested in going “behind the scenes” -- the Angry Birds themed coding game presented during The Hour of Code could be a big hit! A budding artist might be enraptured by Autodesk or Adobe. And students who think computer science and athletics don’t mesh have obviously never seen a RoboCup soccer match. Regardless of the situation, it’s important to show kids how math and science play a role in their everyday lives.
I envision a program that allows minority students in high school involved with STEM to mentor minority students in elementary school. This interaction provides young students with role models with similar cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It converts the possibility of a future in science from a geeky, unfeasible option to an exciting, realistic goal. Schools and organizations would need to help provide the resources necessary to build curricular and extracurricular programs targeting these minority students. Mentors help young students complete projects different projects, such as coding a simple program or creating chess pieces with a 3D printer. At the end of the year students will come together in a Computer Science Fair. The annual event will bring budding computer scientists from many communities to one central location to share their discoveries and show off their work. Prizes and competitions add another layer of fun to the experience, and the pride students will feel exhibitioning their work will only enhance their enthusiasm.
STEM programs introduced in elementary school are...