Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) piques K-12 students' computer curiosity

By Dale Johnson Posted: December 8, 2017 11:45 a.m.

Computer Science professor Daryl Hepting is helping to organize events for Computer Science Education  Week.
Computer Science professor Daryl Hepting is helping to organize events for Computer Science Education Week. Photo: U of R Photography

Every December, computer scientists, teachers, and enthusiasts mark the birthday of Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (1906-1992), computing pioneer.* Hopper is credited with inventing one of the first compiler related tools. In fact, her work with machine-independent programming languages paved the way for COBOL, a high-level programming language still in use today.

"Computer Science Education Week is not only about encouraging students to consider computer science careers, but also about introducing them to a way of thinking that nurtures problem solving and creativity – skills that will stand them in good stead for a future where the ability to thoughtfully engage will be more important than ever," says Dr. Daryl Hepting, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science at the University of Regina.

Once again, the Department of Computer Science is teaming up with the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) Saskatchewan to sponsor the 8th annual CSEdWeek luncheon on December 12, 2017.

“The luncheon brings together IT Professionals and others in the community to engage with issues around computer science education,” explains Hepting.  

This year’s guest speaker is Daniel Atkins, a high school Computer Science teacher in Moose Jaw, who will talk about how using robotics is a good way to get students interested in computer science.

“Robotics is an exciting way to encourage computer science literacy. We are constantly exposed to the work of computer programmers through our laptops and cellphones. But exposure is not enough to develop programming skills. To take students beyond the surface level of computer science and into the coding world, we need something to captivate and inspire. For some students in elementary and high school, robots fascinate and motivate them to explore coding. Once they see how a robot responds to their own code, their minds are primed for computer science literacy,” explains Atkins.

He will also talk about the importance of partnerships between education and the computer science industry.

“In order to have a strong technological society, our schools, post-secondary institutions, and the local computer science industry must work together. Each part will benefit from understanding, communicating with, and investing in the other two parts,” he adds.  

The December 12 luncheon will be held at the Delta Regina (1919 Saskatchewan Drive) from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend. A limited number of seats remain and those interested in attending must register by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 11.

*There's a fascinating U of R connection with Rear Admiral Hopper: she gave the Basterfield Lecture at the University in 1974 and spoke on the topic "Possible Futures – Computer Hardware and Software." Hopper received her PhD in Mathematics in 1934 from Yale University and taught at Vasser as an associate professor until she entered the military during World War II. She retired from the computer industry in 1971 and from the military in 1986 at 79 years of age, the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the United States Navy.