Coding: It's a WoMANS World!

According to the National Science Board’s “Science and Engineering Indicators for 2012,” women make up only 26% of Computer Science and Mathematical Science professionals in the United States.  With female participation in Computer Science, specifically,  dropping to 18% from a 37% peak in the mid- the 1980s.

In 2006, the government of Japan established a target to increase the share of women researchers in science to 20% and in engineering to 15%. Unfortunately, in 2016, these goals were not met, with women in Japan representing less than one-sixth (13.6%) of engineering majors.

Arriving in Japan from England, one of the first countries to formally recognise the importance of teaching children computing from aged five and up, I came with a fixed mindset regarding the fundamentals of learning how to program.  Here at Seisen, through activity session with small groups, increasingly I am building more and more opportunities for students to get into coding into curricular content and using coding as a tool for learning.

There is a demand, a "revolution" if you like, with over 1000 apps released daily to the app store and with women installing 40 percent more apps than men, buying 17 percent more paid apps, and paying an astonishing 87 percent more for those apps.  This fact raises several questions: What is currently being done? What needs to be done to ensure coding becomes a part of grassroots learning?


Introducing coding to your children is becoming more and more accessible for those who a) aren’t familiar with the term 'code' and b) the various interpretations.  The number of blog posts similar to this one, the number of open source software and guides being produced and published to the web makes the subject of computer coding easy to grasp for learners, young or old. :) 

Scratch & Scratch Jr.

Scratch is my number one go to, particular the Scratch Jr iOS and Android for getting started in Kindergarten.  Scratch is ideal for children (or adults) with little or even no coding experience. These programs using building blocks, students can create animations, games and digital stories.

Thank you to Natalee (Grade One) who used Scratch Jr to create this digital story while in kindergarten!



Students are starting to ask why? Why will this happen? What happens if I change this? 

Tynker

I am using Tynker with students who are attending afterschool SASA.  Students commented how this is a "fun" way of learning to code and program.

I find it is an easy way for children to learn the basics of computational thinking and programming skills.

Thanks to Kate (Grade 5) for her take on the phenomena that is Angry Birds!  This is just the beginning - look out App Store :)


Take at look at Sanskriti's Pre-historic Comic




Code.org 

At Seisen, our elementary school students are registered users of code.org. The website was launched in 2013 to advocate for wider access to computer science learning in schools.  Seisen students' each have an individual login, and are able to explore this at their leisure and actively encouraged to do so. Students and staff participate in the Hour of Code, using this website as a platform to develop and deepen conceptual understanding of computer programming in a self-paced learning environment.

Using Minecraft, Starwars, and Zombie vs. Plants to develop conceptual understanding

Parents, teachers & students, I hope you can take something from this blog post and either give one of the above examples a try for yourself when you have some available time and, as always, I would love to hear and see what you are doing with computer programming.  

Sources:

National Science Foundation, “Science and Engineering Indicators 2012,” http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/c0/c0i.htm, (January 2012).

National Center for Education Statistics, “Degrees conferred by degree-granting institu- tions,” http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/ tables/dt12_318.asp, (May 2012).

Government of Japan, Science and Technology Basic Plan (Provisional Translation) (2006): p. 25.

Government of Japan, The 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan (Provisional Translation) (2016): p. 35.

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, “Population of Undergraduate Students by Major,” School Basic Survey 2015 (In Japanese) (2015).

Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, “Female Researchers Support Japan’s Science and Technology: In Honor of Science and Technology Week,” Statistical Topics, No. 8 (2014).

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/03/there-are-only-3-countries-where-girls-feel-more-comfortable-with-math-than-boys/284272/

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