In Honour of Computer Science Education Week

Alas, Computer Science Education week always happens during our black-out week so we are not able to schedule an Hour of Code with our students. But the least I can do is give you something entertaining and thought-provoking  to help you procrastinate with your marking…

Here is a 15-minute podcast from Planet Money entitled When Women Stopped Coding, about why the numbers of women dropped so rapidly in the 80s (1984 to be exact).

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Why not try your hand at one of the Hour of Code workshops? I recommend the Khan academy introduction to javascript or the Code Academy  one!

I have also been reading this interactive article that gives a very in-depth but accessible guide to what is meant when we say “Code”. It is long, so I recommend reading it in chunks, but it is also very thorough!


How hip hop can teach you to code

Sometimes, it is just in the way something is explained for it to finally click. Although I have never written a hip hop song in my life, I have written a lot of poetry, preferring the kind with severe constraints such as sestinas or villanelles. When I translate the idea of the template of a poem into programming, it makes perfect sense! Now I want to make a programming template for poem formats…

I just gave away too much information about how my brain works didn’t I?

Oh well…

The artist may change, but the template remains the same

Sourced through from:

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When Women Stopped Coding

A friend of mine shared this article and I gotta say, I had one of those forehead-slapping Bart Simpson moments.

Here is the graph they are talking about:

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Now see if you can guess what happened in the mid-80s to plummet the upward trend of women in computer science… It is so simple and horrifying it will make you want to tear out your hair.

For decades, the share of women majoring in computer science was rising. Then, in the 1980s, something changed.


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Lightbot: Teaching Rudimentary Coding Concepts to Students | Edudemic

When we started rolling out our iPad program at our school a few years ago, there were no apps to show students how to code. A quick glance at the app store now features a whole section on coding. But which one to choose? Once again, the thorough reviews from Edudemic gives a nice guide on which one to choose.

A note on her review: Having done a quite a few of the online coding tutorials, I find that in many of the tutorials, when you come to an impasse, they give you a little hint but mostly you have to go elsewhere to find the answer. And when I say elsewhere, I of course mean the internet.  Many programming resources, guides, glossaries, can be found online.And when that fails, you ask someone! Programming is way more social and cooperative than people realize.

It looks like this might be a great place to begin!

One more note: this app costs $2.99.


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The Real Reason Girls Don’t Like to Code

My friend shared this article with me on Linkedin yesterday and it resonated with me. I like how the author says we have to change our arguments when promoting STEM fields for girls, that the argument of “this is where the jobs are” though true, is not enough.:

We need to stop telling an entire gender they need to embrace STEM because it’s good for their brain or if they don’t, boys will get all the good, high-paying jobs. It’s not working, and I’m kind of glad, because it means girls aren’t buying the logic that they need to do something just because boys do. We need to play to girls’ strengths and invite them to participate in projects that create solutions for social issues or problems that they care about — and then offer accessible tech which empowers girls to stop thinking about doing STEM and just use the technology, developing skills along the way as a means to an end. When STEM is simply a set of skills and tools to help solve problems we care about, it takes the scary out of tech.

Which is what we are doing with our newly minted Technovation Challenge team! The teams consist of girls aged 10-23 from all around the worl. The challenge is to create a prototype of an app that helps solve a community problem. Technically, the challenge doesn’t begin until January, but our girls are so hung ho we have begun to meet regularly on Thursday after school.

In fact, you might have seen this form in your inbox this morning. It would be wonderful if you could take a minute and think about a problem that has been bugging you in the community (it could be at school, in your neighbourhood or all of Montreal) and tell us about it. Although the girls have a lot of great ideas, it would be awesome to hear from the community at large. Take a minute and tell us your ideas!

I don’t believe that girls are turned off by STEM because it’s hard or simply because girls think they’re bad at math. Girls aren’t wimps or wilting flowers; they don’t shrink from challenges just because something isn’t a strength. We, as a culture,…


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There’s a Maker Faire in That iPad! 10 Ways to Create Student Makers With Apps

I am thinking of media literacy as I post this article. yes – media literacy is about understanding how the media shapes our lives. But what about making media? What about creating our own media and shaping the lives of others?

Below is a great list of resources for using the iPad as a Maker tool. From coding to paper folding to story-telling, there are so many things you can do!

These days, the word “maker” can be interchanged for “constructivist” and the Maker Movement is really starting to sweep the country.


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Could This Chicago Teen’s App Put an End to Cyberbullying? | Edudemic

This is so brilliant I have shivers. And is the CASE IN POINT of why I think teaching kids to program is so important. This 8th grade student used basic information about the teenage brain, as well as her passion for programming to create an app that scans what you are writing (without violating your privacy no less) and sending you a pop up message whenever one of the cyber-bullying trigger words appears.

Read more about this amazing student and unique idea. And if possible, share with your students. It is a shining example of how you can use computer science to make the world better.


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Educators still trying to attract more women to technology, science fields

I read this paragraph this morning and almost choked on my cappuccino:

Standardized test scores released Tuesday show that at the Grade 8-level girls have closed the gap in science and math, performing as well and sometimes better than their male classmates. But participation in those courses begins declining in high school and drops further in university: Females account for just 39 per cent of undergrads in math and physical sciences and only 17 per cent of undergraduates in engineering and computer science, according to data from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

17%? 17%???? This causes a stir of panic in my stomach, mainly because if women are not participating in the building our world (in the virtual and physical sense) how is it possible that it will be a world that includes them?

There have been some modest gains at the postsecondary level, but female participation in science and math courses declines in high school and drops further in university


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How Many Lines Of Code Is That? – Edudemic

Did you know that the latest version of Google Chrome and the Mars Curiosity Rover take between 5-10 million lines of code?

Check out this cool article and infographic to see how much lines of code it takes to make apps, search engines, video games + more!

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From basic iPhone games to entire operating systems for computers, just how much code does it take to make our electronic lives happen? Just a fun, visual way of showing just how much coding is in our daily lives!

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