Conference discusses demand for computer science programs

KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - UNK held its annual Tech EDGE Conference to share developments in computer science in the classroom.

According to Code.org from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, there are over 2,000 computing jobs in the state but there are not enough people prepared for those jobs.

The state only had 539 computer science graduates in 2017 and only 17% were women.

“We really want to have diverse folks involved in computer science,” National Center for Computer Science Education Director Jennifer Rosato said. “When you have lots of perspectives then we can have better algorithms and maybe thinking more about how this impacts everyone who is using the technology.”

The conference also touched on using technology in the classroom to further education in subjects like math and science. UNK students and current teachers attended to learn how they can implement more computers and STEM subjects.

“I could see potentially using computers in virtually all subjects and just how important it is for students especially females to take an interest in technology and really encourage the use of stem,” UNK Elementary Education Student Brooke Kumke said.

There are programs offered during the summer at UNL through Code.org to help K-12 teachers learn how to teach computer science lesson plans accurately.

“What we mean by that for kindergarten might be a lot different than what we think about what might be needed in a high school class,” Facilitator Chery Lucarelli said. “So sometimes computer science can be thinking about logic, or algorithms, or having kids do hands on activities.”

Computer science popularity is growing with more than half of surveyed Nebraska principals said they support computer science programs in their schools.