The Importance of Computer Science in Curriculum

Community members attend the County Office of Education's Hour of Code event December 6.Earlier this month, school staff, board members, and students participated in Hour of Code and other Computer Science Education Week activities at the San Mateo County Office of Education and in schools across the county.

The County Office of Education's Hour of Code event on December 6 highlighted how coding is at the core of art, music, dance, and other areas of culture. The goal of Hour of Code programs is to demystify computer science and show participants they learn coding regardless of age, background, or gender.  

The Hour of Code celebration also provided an opportunity to raise awareness of California’s first computer science standards, adopted by the State Board of Education in September. The standards are designed to help students advance from passive users of technology to creators and innovators who use computers to change the world. The standards cover five core computer science concepts, including Algorithms, Programming, Data and Analysis, and seven core practices, such as inclusion, communication, and collaboration. The standards also place a strong emphasis on equity by providing educators with guidance on how to broaden participation in computer science to include students from underrepresented populations. 

To help teachers and administrators understand and implement the standards, the County Office of Education has released a Computer Science toolkit and created the CSEd Working Group, an open community of practice that meets monthly. The STEAM Center @ SMCOE also offers a lending library of robotics and physical computing hardware as well as free drop-in professional development every Monday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. 

Many local districts also encouraged their students to participate in Computer Science Education Week activities. With the guidance of her teachers, Menlo-Atherton High School senior Anna Quinlan entered and won the California’s 18th Congressional App Challenge with an app that tracks insulin levels for diabetics.

“Our goal is for every member of the community to approach computing with creativity and confidence,” explained Dr. Emily Thomforde, Maker Education and Computer Science Coordinator at the County Office.

The County Office of Education is also planning a new effort to promote equitable access to computer science education in San Mateo County schools, including the creation of a Computer Science Steering Committee.  

For more information on the County’s Office’s computer science initiatives and the State’s Computer Science Standards, please visit the County Office’s website.

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