"Computer science (CS) is the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society."
While there are many definitions for Computer Science, it is important to recognize that coding is only one element. CS teaches students how to use computational thinking to create solutions for real-world problems. By gaining knowledge about the technology we use, how it works, and why it works, students are empowered to better understand the systems and processes that are applicable to almost any 21st -century career.
The K–12 Computer Science Framework (k12cs.org) provides overarching, high-level guidance per grade bands, while the standards provide detailed, measurable student performance expectations. The Framework, and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) standards, were considered as primary inputs for the Kansas standards development process.
1. Computing Systems
2. Networks and the Internet
3. Data Analysis
4. Algorithms and Programming
5. Impacts of Computing
1. Fostering an Inclusive Computing Culture
2. Collaborating Around Computing
3. Recognizing and Defining Computational Problems
4. Developing and Using Abstractions
5. Creating Computational Artifacts
6. Testing and Refining Computational Artifacts
7. Communicating About Computing
What is the importance of learning Computer Science?
Computational thinking and problem solving are fundamental skills that can be applied to all career paths. Kent State succinctly defines that “Computing has become the universal underpinning of scientific advancement and economic activity”. Inside Higher ED, writing on whether every college student needs a computer science course, notes that “Whether one thinks that the purpose of a college education is to prepare students for the workplace or to develop foundational knowledge with lifetime benefits (or both), computer science, in the 21st century, is fundamental.”
Recognizing this, it is necessary to broaden CS participation at the K-12 level, better preparing our students for what will be a vital component of their future learning and ultimately, their employment.
What industries and careers are affected by Computer Science?
Almost every area of industry is becoming increasingly more reliant on CS knowledge and practice. Chefs use online inventory management and ordering systems; artists analyze and create digital images; financiers and economists evaluate numerical data; farmers use GPS systems, drones, and digital analysis for crop health; property developers and archaeologists use systems to create or recreate structures.
It is now almost impossible to find a profitable business that doesn’t have an online presence with a website or social media accounts, or one that doesn’t use an application for bookkeeping, or one that doesn’t use a computer for invoicing, payments, receipts, or advertising material. Whether we chose to embrace it or not, foundational skills in CS benefit almost any employee in any occupation.
What is the Current Demand?
Kansas has a significant demand for tech talent with many businesses located across the state in desperate need of skilled employees. Computer science is essential for even the smallest of startup companies that now require websites, apps, databases, and analytics. Tim Berners-Lee created the very first website (Hello World!) back in 1990. Today, there are just short of 2Bn websites on the internet with approximately 545,000 new sites being created every single day.
Why is there such a shortage of skilled talent?
Data compiled by KSU suggests that in 2019, there were over 600,000 computer science-based job opportunities available across America. During that same year, all American colleges combined, graduated just 49,000 CS students. Closer to home, there were only 516 CS bachelor’s degree grads within the state of Kansas.
This indicates a severe deficit in the amount of available tech talent in comparison to CS job availability. It is in that respect that we can understand why many of our US based tech businesses farm out CS jobs to countries such as those in Eastern Europe – Hungary, Solvakia, Poland and the Ukraine, where the CS bandwagon touched down several years ago.