Students learning to use technology for good

Seventy-two years ago, computer scientist Grace Hopper was experiencing issues with her computer when she realized a moth was the source of the problem. Thus, the term “debugging” was coined to refer to resolving challenges in computing.

Thirty years ago, I taught Computer Science at George Washington Carver Elementary School.

This week, thousands of SFUSD students are celebrating Computer Science Education Week, which coincides with Grace Hopper’s birthday.

Put simply, computer science is the study of computers and algorithmic processes, their principles, their designs, their applications, and their impact on society. The most important takeaway for students is gaining insight into how to use the power of computers to solve big problems.

At SFUSD, we recognize the importance of computer science education even if students don’t plan to pursue computer science as a career path. Computer science teaches problem solving and important skills like communication, collaboration, and design. Computer Science can open the door to tremendous career opportunities within the technology sector while also being part of a well rounded education.

Computer science is increasingly important in today’s world and is just one way we’re redefining school in San Francisco as we prepare students for a rapidly changing world. SFUSD is the first large, urban school district in the U.S. to develop and implement a comprehensive pre-K to 12 computer science curriculum. The number of students participating in computer science instruction has dramatically increased since 2013-14, currently reaching about half of the 54,000 students in SFUSD.

All of our students this week will be celebrating computer science, demystifying code, exploring impacts of computing, and giving it a try!

This year’s CS Ed Week theme is Computer Science for Good, inspired by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Students are encouraged to consider how computer science can be used to address the world’s challenges as technology and computer science will be key to solving problems big and small.

No matter what subject or grade level your student is in, they can participate! Many activities related to the fundamentals of CS don’t even require computers. If you want to know what your children are learning, our lessons and activities are available at CSinSF.org/CSEdWeek.

Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.

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