Two students from STEM School Chattanooga, Alyssa Malo and Apsara Beard, traveled to the National Governors’ Association conference in Des Moines, Ia. on Friday, July 15, to highlight the importance of having computer science education in K-12 classrooms.
Ms. Malo and Ms. Beard spoke with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad about their experiences and interest in computer science while guiding the governors through some basic coding activities.
Michael Stone, Public Education Foundation’s new STEM director of Innovative Learning, who last year was an Albert Einstein Fellow at the National Science Foundation, and Kim Stanley, language arts teacher at STEM School Chattanooga, also joined the students and helped explain how students can learn coding while in high school.
The event was sponsored by the NGA, Code.org, and the Computer Science Education Coalition.
"Many governors have been proactive in their efforts to expand computer science in their states, but it is often discussed that more needs to be done to amplify and accelerate these ongoing efforts. There is currently no dedicated federal funding stream for K-12 computer science education, although many have called for this to change. Earlier this year, 27 governors joined with business and education leaders to urge Congress to invest in K-12 computer science education this year," officials said.
Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds opened the event with a talk on the gender and racial gaps in computing. She said that, “High quality computer science education is not equitably available, especially for girls and underrepresented minority groups. We want to make sure that all students are offered the opportunity to explore computer science.”
Ms. Malo, a rising sophomore, said she was honored to close the event alongside Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi. Ms. Malo told the audience, “I had never coded before last year, when I participated in Code.org’s annual Hour of Code event. Now I have designed a video game based on my favorite book and I have worked with other students at STEM School Chattanooga to develop a coding camp for young girls. Computer Science has opened a world of possibilities for me, and I think every student should have the opportunity to learn to code.”
Following the event, Ms. Beard noted, “It was amazing to talk with Lt. Governor Reynolds. She grabbed a group of us (four female high school students) and shared so much valuable information. I am inspired to come back to Chattanooga and make a difference for my community through computer science.”