Computer Science Education Week at Germantown Academy has evolved throughout the years. For many years, students were introduced to programming—often for the first time—through Code.org's initiative, Hour of Code, which began as part of the celebration of Computer Science Education Week and is celebrated every year at this time in honor of Grace Hopper's birthday (December 9). GA's Computer Science program has grown a lot since those days and now students are exposed to coding and computational thinking starting in the Lower School and at every grade through 9th with electives available starting in 10th grade.
Accordingly, GA's celebration of Computer Science Education Week has evolved. This year's celebration featured the sharing of projects and experiences across all divisions. Upper School students created videos demonstrating projects that were shown to Lower School students. Those videos were coupled with continued study of coding and computational thinking through special activities. A handful of Upper School students also shared some of their advanced projects with Middle Schoolers, fellow Upper Schoolers, and faculty during lunch on Monday and Tuesday. A guest speaker from TechGirlz, a Philadelphia-based non-profit whose mission is to "inspire middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers," joined Middle School and Upper School students and faculty on Wednesday. And finally, students and faculty heard from alumni studying and working in the field throughout the week.
Computer Science Education Week Guest Speakers:
Danica Pascavage, Philadelphia Area Outreach Manager for TechGirlz
Ms. Pascavage discussed her experiences in education and the industry and now in outreach trying to improve diversity in the industry by encouraging–– especially young girls–– to continue studying and engaging in computer science.
Shira Wein '15, Ph.D. Student of Computer Science at Georgetown University & Graduate Intern at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Shira discussed her experience in pursuing doctoral-level computer science degree in the field of Natural Language Processing, as well as speaking about her work in the same field at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as and giving some college choice advice.
Hannah Fried '16, B.S.E. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a B.A. in Computer Science from Duke University and currently works as a Software Engineer at Peloton Interactive.
Hannah discussed her journey to enjoying computer science and her current work in the field, as well as presenting a lesson about machine language and how processors parse instructions at the lowest levels.
Miles Hanamirian '18, Studying Finance at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a Minor in Computer Science, and several concentrations including Quantitative Finance
Miles discussed a project he recently completed modeling election results based off of economic data, as well as his experience in blending finance with programming.
Max Korman '18, Studying Math, Physics, Logic, Philosophy, and Computer Science at the University of Pennsylvania
Max discussed his interest in theoretical computer science and his experience in pulling together a variety of interests, as well as University of Pennsylvania's work in quantum computing.
Daryl Dohner '19, Studying Computer Science at Georgia Tech & Software Engineer Co-op at Patientco
Daryl discussed his experiences in computer science from teaching himself how to build a web application in Middle School at GA to studying computer science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, to his various work experiences.
Caitlin Boland-Szura '22, Daelyn Nwaobasi '21, Kevin Cui '21, GA Computer Science Students
Demonstrated the various projects they've been working on as well as talking about development process and their experiences in CS at GA.
Scott Fraser P'22, Chief Information Officer at ECRI Institute
Talked with third grade students on Friday about the history of computers, what jobs exists as a coder, and what one can do with coding knowledge .
"If there were a single lesson to be pulled from hearing from our alumni and folks in the field this week, it is that the computer science is integrated into so many facets of every day life and that it increasingly is a complementary component to so much work that is happening," said Computer Science Department Chair Jason Oswald. "Similarly, our growing computer science program at GA complements the work happening in the classrooms beyond the computer science ones."
Grace Hopper and Computer Science Education Week:
During World War II, and after earning her Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale, Grace Hopper tried to enlist in the Navy, but was rejected because of her age (34). She joined the Navy Reserves, and eventually began work on some of the very early computer systems. She had the crazy notion that we should be able to program computers using natural language and that they were capable of more than just arithmetic. Her ideas and working examples were rejected until a few years later when they became the foundation of COBOL, a language that became so ubiquitous that it is still used in production environments today– sixty years after its inception. That is mind-boggling. How many pieces of technology do you use that are sixty years old? She eventually became a Rear Admiral and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Computer Science Education Week happens at the time it does in recognition of Grace Hopper’s birthday, December 9, 1909.