DARPA-funded project to spark computer science education

TopCoder hopes its virtual community will increase student interest in pursuing computer science jobs.

To boost computer science education and help middle and high school students strengthen their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills before they enter college and the workforce, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded TopCoder a $5.57 million contract to develop a new virtual community featuring competitions and educational resources.

TopCoder is a worldwide software development community known for its computer coding contests. DARPA representatives said they hope TopCoder’s new virtual community, focusing on computer science education, will entice students in grades 6-12 to pursue a computer science degree or other STEM-related fields.

There has been a significant decline in the number of students graduating with a computer science degree, said DARPA program manager Melanie Dumas—including a 70-percent reduction in students pursuing the field since its 2001 peak.…Read More

Summit: U.S. needs more computer science teachers

Panel members spoke of the need for more rigorous computer science education.
Panel members spoke of the need for more rigorous computer science education.

Fewer than 65 percent of K-12 schools in the United States offer an introductory-level computer science course, much less rigorous training, according to a recent study conducted by the Association for Computing Machinery and the Computer Science Teachers Association—and an Oct. 6 Computing in the Core summit aimed to draw attention to the need for more computer science teachers.

James Shelton, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, spoke of how computer science education was never explicitly included as a part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition, which works to support STEM education programs for teachers and students.

“We want a well-rounded curriculum for students. That means reading and writing … but it also means the other things that add into making a student well-rounded,” Shelton said.…Read More