by Kelly Gaier Evans, Director of the Ohio STEM Learning Network
Computer Science Education Week is just around the corner. At a recent state committee meeting on computer science, data provided by JobsOhio showed the skill gap between computer science (CS) occupations and the supply of CS graduates in our state widens by over eleven thousand openings (11,000) every year.
Ohio is producing more CS graduates. However, the state’s growth of CS graduates was only 9.5% from 2014-2019. That growth rate puts our state 44th in the country. We can do more.
Why does this matter?
Computer science jobs provide economic mobility for our communities and for our students. The average annual salary is $30,000 higher in CS occupations in Ohio than the median household income in 2019.
Not every student is going to pursue a career in computer science. Yet this one field is a part of almost every aspect of our lives. It is a part of our homes, our communication, and our transportation. Every industry has been impacted by computer science and the speed of change is accelerating. Students need a foundational understanding of computer science just as they need a basic understanding of how food is grown or how the body works. Students need to understand how the world they live in works.
Where can we do better?
The recently released 2021 State of Computer Science Education report compares Ohio to the rest of the country. The report was published by the Code.org Advocacy Coalition, the Computer Science Teachers Association, and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance. This study looks at access to foundational computer science courses, asking does a high school offer a foundational course in computer science? Only fifty percent (50%) of Ohio high schools offered a foundational computer science course in the 2019-2020 school year. Ohio has made some progress since the last report, increasing our access by eight percent (8%). However, one in every two high schools do not offer their students access to a foundational computer science course.
How does this compare to the schools across the country? Ohio ranks thirty-first (31st) in the country when it comes to high school access to computer science.
How to get started with computer science
There are simple steps educators or community members can try today to help us make improvements. An hour of intro activities could help you see computer science in a new way. Twenty minutes of time could win support for a new CS experience at your school, through the OSLN STEM Classroom Grant Program. You could even be the teacher who brings CS to your school.
- Give computer science a try: Just one hour can further your own understanding. Then, try it with others (students, teachers, parents) to build interest in computer science across your community. I’ve included below a number of free resources you can use to get started during CSedWeek, December 6-12, 2021.
- Embed computer science into your classrooms and schools. A few examples:
- Language arts teachers – check out this new Poem Art Hour of Code that allows students to express themselves through the creation of animated poems that they write and code. Bonus – it is accompanied with a seven (7) lesson module which is aligned to ELA standards you can embed into your class.
- Are you an art or music teacher? Help students design a product to meet a specific user’s needs by using the design process (here’s a free lesson plan) and then go a step further and prototype the design using some physical computing.
- Physical Education teachers- help students learn how to make a step counter with a micro:bit and MakeCode
- Get the supports you need to offer CS at your school:
- Interested in adding a foundational computer science course to your school offerings? Check out Code.org’s free curriculum and accompanying professional development for teachers. The yearlong cohort will be offered this coming year at no cost in partnership with the Ohio STEM Learning Network. Applications for the 6-12 level courses (CS Discoveries, CS Principles, and CSA – will open in January). Interested, sign up here to be notified when applications launch.
- K-5 Professional Learning is offered throughout the year. Find a free professional development course here.
There are so many different resources out there in every field! Need some funding to get started? Be sure to apply for a STEM classroom grant by December 2nd. An application will take about 20 minutes and could bring $2,500 to $5,000 to your classroom later this school year.
Have additional ideas that go beyond your school community?
The state is inviting Ohioans to help answer one key question: What would it take for Ohio to become a national leader in computer science education? Ohioans interested in sending ideas to the State Committee on Computer Science are asked to email them by December 2, 2021, to [email protected].