Sunday, February 15, 2009

From the BPC community meeting, Charlotte, North Carolina, Feb. 8-10, 2009

Our IJIMS project is part of the National Science Foundation's Broadening Participation in Computing Program, a national effort to enlarge and diversify the pipeline for computing professionals. While our project is fairly unusual in its focus on middle-schoolers and its use of journalism as a tool for engaging students in computer science, we are part of a national community of education, government and industry professionals who share a similar mission.

At the BPC conference, I had a conversation with Jane Margolis, an educational researcher from UCLA, whose book, Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race and Computing explores why we are still failing to attract sufficient numbers of students of color to computer science. Margolis told me that many schools are "technology rich" but "curriculum poor," partially because of a shortage of qualified teachers, but also because narrow beliefs about who is capable of being a computer scientist:

Andrew Williams is a computer science professor at Spelman College, a historically black college for African American women, who beat the odds to become a robotics engineer. Williams not only led a team of Spelman undergrads to victory in the prestigious international Robocup competition, he is spearheading a the multi-school, multi-state Artsi Alliance, which engages students from middle school through college in robotics. His book: Out of the Box: Building Robots, Changing Lives, recounts his inspirational journey.

For more information about the full range of programs funded by BPC, check out the BPC Portal.

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