Yesterday was equally packed with good stuff from CSTA. It started with a keynote from Selena Deckelmann. Mr. Geeky is still talking about it. He has been a contributor to open source projects for a long time, and has long complained about the lack of women involved. He said it was so refreshing to hear about open source from a different perspective. He was also happy that Selena didn’t get smacked down in her first contribution to open source (a story she told during the keynote). Too often, women get derided when they ask questions on forums or contribute in some way to open source projects. He’s seen it and tried to correct it at times. She choked up near the beginning of her talk when she talked about women who come to her workshops and don’t believe in themselves. And then they leave believing they can really do something. That was so great!
I then went to a CS Principles session. CS Principles is the new AP CS they’re piloting right now. Our school doesn’t do AP anything anymore, but I have definitely been following the shift in the AP CS course and have used the philosophy and even some of the assignments in my classes. I loved hearing about what other teachers are doing within CS Principles. They got very specific about the structure of their assignments, which I really appreciated. I also think that it has the potential to really increase the number of students in CS and specifically the number of women in CS.
Our session was next. We had an hour and four people who all needed to say something. That was quite challenging. We got through 47 something slides, showed some demos (with only one demo fail) and even flew a drone. We used the drone to take pictures of the audience and selected two people to win a robot.
Then we had lunch. I spent some time talking to several people. Always great to connect with people. After that I went to a Bot Ball session, something I’d heard of but had not really explored. It looks slightly better than VEX, but I’m losing interest in competitive robotics in general.
After that, I went to a recruiting women to CS session, which was mostly stuff I’d heard before, but there are always new ideas to explore.
The closing keynote was by Hadi Pavroti, one of the founders of Code.org. It’s great to have an organization with that much recognition behind Computer Science education. Code.org is working on many fronts to promote CS Education, from policy to curriculum to outreach. CSTA plus Code.org = awesome! (To paraphrase something from Selena’s keynote.)
In addition to Mr. Geeky, the other folks that work on the Calico Project (the system I use to teach with) were there (Jennie, Keith, and Hannah) and I really enjoyed spending time with them and talking about Computer Science Education. Even though they’re college faculty, we share a lot of the same issues and passions. I also met in person many people I’ve only seen online: Carolyn, Rebecca, Mark Guzdial, Tom (from Bird Brain technologies), Selena (linked above). I also met some other amazing teachers and computer science-y people. It was cool to have Mr. Geeky there. There were people he knew that I didn’t know yet and vice versa.
As usual, after this conference, I’m exhausted but fired up! I can’t wait to get back to school and start doing some stuff! I’ve vowed to get more involved in the CS-oriented organizations around me: CSTA Philly, GirlsDevelopIT, TechGirlz. I might be crazy but who cares. I have to get something done!