The year was 2007. I was getting ready to go into college and had no idea what I wanted to do. In high school, the main thing on my mind was, when is the next [insert metal band] album going to come out? I had a small interest in computers, but very little formal education.
Not surprisingly, I spent the first three years of college switching majors. I ultimately ended up with a Bachelors of Science in Business—a far cry from what I actually wanted to do with my life. While I wrestled with my academic direction, I got a job working in the Apple Store. This was around the time that the original iPhone was released, which was a pretty amazing experience. Working with technology quickly became my passion. I learned many of the skills that I have today from my time at Apple.
Over the years, I’ve met others with similar stories. This got me thinking about all of the students who are never exposed to computer science as part of their K - 12 curriculum. How does this impact their college decisions, or their pathway into the workforce?
So I did a little digging. My wife Betsy is a kindergarten teacher in Great Falls, SC. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with her students, and one thing I’ve noticed is that kids generally understand technology, especially if you pull an iPad out of your computer bag. The other thing I’ve noticed is how many kids have no idea what a computer programmer does. I’ve seen this same confusion with middle school and high school students.
Code.org states by the year 2020, there will be 1,000,000 more jobs than computer science students can fill. That is a staggering number. Luckily, there are several organizations who want to help bridge the gap. One such organization is Code.org. They offer a free, coding curriculum with interactive games to help promote computer science programs in the classroom. The organization is also behind Computer Science Education Week, an annual program to help inspire K - 12 students by offering free, one hour coding tutorials. This year’s event takes place December 7th - 13th. I have personally had the opportunity to help facilitate at A.L. Brown High School, and it was so rewarding to see students engage with computer science. I cannot recommend this program highly enough.