April Daly's Blog

Thoughts on coding, technology, society, and life in general...

A Voice from the Past on Oppression

The recent National Geographic television series regarding Albert Einstein's life has rekindled my interest in Professor Einstein's writings and works, the latter of which I understand little. The first episode of the television series was startling to watch as Einstein experienced hostility while at the same time being recognized as a great scientist of Germany. His was a remarkable life, from great scientific achievements to the experience of the rise of Fascism, he has much to teach us. For today's blog entry I point the reader to Herr Professor's insites regarding the potential for oppression to be a stimulus.

For Each Child - Learn To Code!

She does "the coding!"

That was the response one Mom gave me as I handed out fliers for the Mahopac & Carmel CoderDojo. Presumably this is a result of An Hour of Code which is part of the initiative led by code.org to have computer science taught as a core curriculum subject in primary and secondary schools.

Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science

As a cross-disciplinarian in chemistry and computer programming I consider myself fortunate. These two subjects combined have provided me with a versatile skill set that continues to peak my interest while providing me with a good career. Wanting to contribute to the computer science advocacy effort I decided to start a local CoderDojo in my community. I have enjoyed teaching in the past during graduate school and while I was positioned to pursue academia as a career, for personal, okay monetary reasons, I wasn't able too. Fast forward many years and with some resources available to me I thought why not start a CoderDojo!

Are we doing enough to prepare our kids for 21st century careers?

In my local community we have Blue-Ribbon Schools and there are efforts to enhance the technological footprint in many of these institutions, but as data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shows, a shortfall of skilled workers to fill computing jobs is expected over the next decade.

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics chart showing shortfall of workers to fill computing jobs

Compounding the problem is the decline in computer science graduates, particularly among women.

National Science Foundation chart showing the decline in Computer Science Graduates over the last decade

My generation has experienced relatively slow advances in computer and information technology. True, we have gone from Polaroid cameras and fledgling electric typewriters to taking high quality digital photographs on our hand-held cellular phone and writing articles that can be published, with those photographs, to the whole world in seconds, but I believe that this will not compare to what we are about to experience with big data, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Kids today are great consumers of information technology but we must provide them with the education and foundation to be creators and providers of information technology. Their future depends on it.

Don't just play on your phone - program it!