On CS4 Mainline.

Image courtesy: Treehouse.

A brief introduction on Computer Science (CS)

To the parents, students, and teachers: over the past decade, we’ve seen a steady increase in the rise of Computer Science (CS). Computer Science is a field that was growing yesterday, is growing today, and is poised for growth tomorrow.

To develop my thesis further, here are some statistics from the National Bureau of Labor Statistics:

For most of the past 20 years, employment in computer systems design and related services has grown rapidly.

From 1990 to 2001, employment in the industry rose quickly, as many businesses began to invest in computer systems.

Between 2001 and 2011, employment in computer systems design and related services increased by 232,300 jobs or 18 percent. This increase came in spite of the steep decline in employment between 2001 and 2003 that followed the dot-com crash in 2000, when investors sold off their stock in overvalued dot-com companies, resulting in tremendous losses of money and jobs in Internet technology.

Since 2003, employment in the IT industry has grown by 37 percent. During the recent recession (December 2007 to June 2009), the industry lost only 1 percent of its workforce in 2009, but otherwise maintained employment. By 2010, employment had recovered and was higher than it had been in 2008.

Developing The Next Generation

When faced with statistics such as these, it’s important for us to recognize that it’s in our hands — as parents, schools, governments — to develop and catapult the next generation of students who can take on fill this huge gap in the market with the unlimited capabilities of Computer Science.

A generation who is not only introduced to Computer Science early on, but sees it as a skill as vital as learning English.

However, although many school districts across America, government officials are recognizing the capabilities of Computer Science, someone is yet to take it one — notch above.

The education market for computer science is growing and it’s growing fast.

A gap in the computer science education, for the youth, was that the sessions never lasted much longer than an hour, or for a day. While these sessions provided an initial exposure to Computer Science, students didn’t have the opportunity to engage with other students, build meaningful applications, and learn the knowledge to leverage that knowledge to do what they’d like: develop an Android App or iOS Apps, develop games whose ad revenue goes toward charity, VR/AR Machines that taught children what to do in emergency situations, mobile applications that prevented human trafficking, the possibilities were nearly endless.

If youth has the ambition, motivation and interest to develop meaningful applications, why did they still lack resources?

Under the firm belief that talent is equally distributed [age-wise], but opportunity is not, I asked myself how can I help empower the next generation?

Be the change you’d like to see in the world — Gandhi

So I began sketching out a initial prototype of what turned out to be CS4 Mainline, a 4 week, tuition-free, summer immersive bootcamp aimed to develop a community of motivated and determined developers in Grades 2–7.

While developing the curriculum, I consulted lead engineers at companies such as IBM, Cisco and Pinterest on LinkedIn. They were very welcoming and didn’t hesitate to give advice about which fundamental skills were important in Computer Science.

This is an upside to being a student: people are willing to help if you ask because not long ago, they were in your shoes. The key is too never ask too much. Frame yourself as just a student looking for advice, and they’ll be glad to help you. You just have to ask.

This combined, aided me to develop a tailored curriculum based on the student’s skills and baseline knowledge. To adequately test the skills of the students in our first cohort, we developed a diagnostic test based on a discrete time stochastic control process. Fancy words aside, this meant that the curriculum is equipped to adapt based on any skill type.

For example, if a student speeded through the introductory questions on the diagnostic test, our algorithm picked it up. The algorithm adjusts the course work to his/her level so the student is challenged and is gaining something new out of the process.

This ensures that we never have a baseline approach. A student in our cohort doesn’t have to straggle behind while learning in our class, rather we equipped them with the material they need no matter their skill level.

And if a student want to refer back to a previous module?

They can always come back, redo their old projects for a refresher, and move forward. Our curriculum & module type allows every student to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

We launched on July 10, with our first cohort of 11 consisting of students in Grades 2–7.

Editor’s Takeaway:

  • It’s thrilling to see the great work organizations like CS4 Mainline are doing. Rohit’s token of appreciation is teaching tomorrow’s youth Computer Science & expanding the use of the DTSCP curriculum across various CS initiatives aimed towards kids across U.S. and beyond. What’s yours?

How to adapt to the growth of Computer Science

If you’re a parent, encourage your child to experiment with Computer Science with programs such as Scratch, Tynker and Hour-of-Code. If they demonstrate interest, purchase toys such as the Dash-and-Dot, and Sphero.

If you’re a student, sign up for an opportunity to be part of Cohort 2 of CS4 Mainline next year. You can also use technologies such as Scratch, Tynker, and Hour-of-Code to learn CS Fundamentals. If you’re in elementary and middle school, ask your teacher at school if you’ll get an opportunity to learn CS, if you don’t already. Persistence is key, and your teacher might just get to squeeze in a Computer Science course in there!

If you’re a school administrator, official, staff member, or teacher: Make the push to get more computer science education time in. Have the student understand that there is a potential option for student to learn Computer Science (CS) at your school by promoting Hour-of-Code initiatives, investing more in CS resources, and bringing in current professionals who’re in IT to the classroom. These are all potential steps you have the power to take today to adapt your school to 21st century skills.

Editor’s Takeaway:

  • It’s up to us to step up and empower the next generation. Whether you may be a parent, school official, student government president, or government official, you have it in your hands to educate the next generation in 21st century skills so they can go on to do great things to the country and the globe. Why wait when you can start now?

Rohit Bommisetti is the founder of CS4 Mainline and a student at Conestoga High School.