Computer Science Education Week

Spotlight on NSF-funded computer scientists

Computer Science Education Week was established by Congress in 2009 to increase the awareness of the transformative role of computing and the need to bolster computer science education across all levels. NSF funds research and development that is building the necessary foundations for implementing rigorous and engaging computer science in schools across the U.S.

Ayanna Howard

Professor & Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Endowed Chair in Bioengineering in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Tech

Photo credit: Georgia Tech

I design smart and emotionally intelligent robots that can interact with children to help them achieve their developmental milestones. I also design educational and therapy games so children and robots can play together, like SuperPop VR.

SuperPop VR is an interactive game that requires children to pop bubbles in a virtual environment. A robot playmate interacts with each child during the game by providing feedback. The robot provides corrective feedback by showing the child how to pop the bubbles in the game with the “correct” speed, and “motivational” feedback by the robot encouraging the child when he or she have done well by saying, “Fantastic! Wow! Good game.”

“In my job, I get to use my imagination and, with my computer software and engineering skills, make those grand dreams a reality.”

Cayelan Carey

Assistant Professor, Freshwater Ecosystem Ecology, Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech

J. Scott Parker, Virginia Tech

I am passionate about studying freshwater lakes and reservoirs to protect our drinking water. I use sensors in lakes around the world to collect water quality data & then stream the data wirelessly to online databases. I use these data to determine when the lake water is safe to drink, as part of my effort to protect communities’ drinking water supplies.

Secondly, I develop and run computer models that are used to predict future water quality in lakes. Working with a team of computer scientists, we’ve developed software that enables us to quickly & easily run millions of different lake model simulations to understand how all of these potential future conditions might interact to affect water quality.

“I love working with ecology and computer science so students can get excited about lake sensors, data, and modeling!”

Nichole Pinkard

Associate Professor, Learning Sciences, School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University

Photo credit: Nichole Pinkard, Northwestern University

I work with a team of software developers, graphic designers, experience designers, curriculum developers, data analysts, and learning scientists to design an online social network platform which powers the Digital Youth Divas program. Digital Youth Divas is an out-of-school program that uses narrative stories to help middle school girls, especially those from non-dominant communities, learn design-based engineering, computer science, and develop STEM identities. In online (L3 platform) and face-to-face spaces, the girls use circuitry, coding, and fabrication to design, create, and re-imagine items like jewelry and hair accessories, and activities like music, dancing, and talking to friends.

“I work with graphic and experience designers, curriculum and software developers, data analysts, and learning scientists to empower middle school girls with engineering and computing skills.”

Tony Coulson

Director, Cyber Security Center, California State University, San Bernardino

Photo credit: Antony Coulson, California State University San Bernardino

I’m the director of GenCyber, a two-week, interdisciplinary cyber security camp for middle and high school girls. For the last three years, the Cyber Security Center at at California State University, San Bernardino hosted GenCyber. During the first week, 200 middle school girls from the local community attend various sessions to learn about different principles of cyber security. The second week gives 50 high school girls the opportunity to hone their skills and gain more experience with programming and other aspects of the field. Students at the camp learn to hack drones, secure passwords, and even get the chance to explore the basics of cyber forensics. Every girl at the camp receives a free Raspberry Pi (micro-computer) that they learn how to use throughout the week.

“I get to work with students who usually know nothing about technology and push them to do AMAZING things!”

Jackie Corricelli

Teacher, Conard High School in West Hartford, CT & 2013 PAEMST awardee

Photo credit: Jacki Corricelli

I teach computer science. Specifically, I teach metacognition, thinking about thinking. I believe that high school students at all levels can study computer science. I use storytelling to connect my students to the subject and encourage them to view it as a “superpower” — one that will help them in a multitude of career paths. I have worked hard to expand computer science at my school, specifically working to increase participation of young women in my classes.

“I teach computer science. The application I use is metacognition, thinking about thinking.”

Janice Mak

Teacher on assignment, Arizona State Board of Education, Paradise Valley Unified School District & 2014 PAEMST awardee

Photo credit: Janice Mak, PVUSD

As a middle school computer science teacher, my goal is to ignite my students’ creativity and problem solving skills through engaging and relevant applications of computer science. This includes project-based learning experiences such as students researching and designing their own app concept to solve a community-based problem using Scratch or MIT App Inventor, designing and creating a personal website using HTML and CSS, planning then coding their very own video game, using Python to cause a light to blink using Rasberry Pi, or even using R to analyze data.

“At the end of every lesson, I tell my students, ‘Thank you for teaching me’ and they echo in response. We are a community of learners.”