Thought of the Day: A Solution to the U.S. having a Shortage of Computer Scientists: Integrate Computer Science with Mathematics in School.

Mathematical/Programming symbols: columns represent concepts in math, cs, and programming; rows represent the progression of a concept from theory to implementation. Source: Jeremy Kun. Click to buy the T-Shirt from the original creator.It is clear that the U.S. still has a major unemployment problem, and yet there is a lack of computer programmers.  To solve this problem, many technologists are calling on schools to teach computer science within schools.  But, for all the talk about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in education, the reality is that thus far our schools continue to not truly teach the Technology portion of STEM.

We still teach old Math (Common Core does not include Boolean algebra nor base systems, and inadvertently made “algorithmic” a bad word.)  And our science curricula is still not emphasizing the fact that much of science is turning into a form of data science, with digital sensors being used in nearly all of the natural sciences, and both natural and social sciences now are often dealing with very large data sets that require statistical analysis through software to comprehend.

Changing our public education laws/code may be one solution to this problem, but that is often slow, fraught with political bickering, and can have unintended consequences.

So one solution that schools could implement much quicker, would be to integrate programming and computer science into the curricula they already have, specifically into math curricula.  And this is an idea that is starting to be talked about from TED Talks to educational blogs.  But, to do so on a larger scale, it helps if there is preexisting curricula that teachers and schools can use.

And, in fact the C-STEM program with U.C. Davis has developed some curricula that does this.  And I wish I could sing their praise.  But in some recent email conversations with Heidi Espindola, their Program Manager, it is clear that despite them receiving public funding, that they have no interest in releasing their curricula to the public in a free and open manner.

Thankfully, there are also a lot of free and open resources on the net, but none that I have found which forms a completely Common Core aligned curriculum.   So, I am starting to work on curating and combining these resources (as the beauty of open licenses allow us to do!), and producing an online, fully Common Core aligned, math Curriculum that is taught through coding, which can meet California’s graduation requirements for mathematics (and likely other states as well).  I will share more about this soon.

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