Computational Thinking Can Bridge the STEM Skills Gap

Teaching students about computers will not only help students across the nation, but help America.

Sexism in the field of computer science and technology is alive and well. The myth that women are not interested in computers is only a myth, yet fuels many arguments among those who refuse to see the evidence and those trying to be as inclusive as possible. Teaching students about computer science from a very young age may help bridge this gap. Computational thinking–thinking like a computer and using concepts from computer science to logically solve problems–is one approach that teachers could use to spark interest in STEM programs.

Computational Thinking With & Without Technology

  • Collecting Data – While not strictly coding, being able to analyze data is an important skill every person should have. Exel uses technology that students are already familiar with (e.g., computers, Google Sheets, etc.) so it won’t overload them with too many variables.
  • Pattern Recognition & Generalization – Even in English class students can use algorithms to find similarities with certain patterns. For example, we will use either “a” or “an” depending on whether a vowel or consonant follow in the next word. Students can even play guessing games in which data can be collected and reviewed.
  • No Technology Required – Some methods of computational thinking don’t even require technology! There are games that use puzzles, crayons, string, and running around to teach students about the wonders of computers. Young children can learn through play, and if we want to inspire every student, we have to make the early stages of learning inclusive for everyone.

Our students who are interested in STEM fields should have the right to pursue their dream regardless of sex, gender, race, or orientation. Giving kids equal opportunity and equal inspiration is an important facet of doing just that.

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