Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A Spoon Full of Computer Science

I was thinking about data science lately. The problem is that I don’t know much about data science. I learned about data bases in school and worked with them some in industry but that was mostly about how they work internally. I used to give talks on how B* Trees worked and I could (back then) give serious talks on how databases do journaling. But I never did much of anything with real work data applications. Not professionally at lease. But I do like playing around with data and Excel is my friend.

So my first thought was to look at Bootstrap’s data Science curriculum. I did find their definition:

data science the science of collecting, organizing, and drawing general conclusions from data, with the help of computers.

Sounds good to me. I guess I have been doing some data science after all.

Looking though the curriculum had me thinking about Mark Guzdial's work with teaspoon languages. It feels like there are some things Bootstrap and Teaspoon languages have in common. The idea of teaspoon languages is to add some computer science to other subjects to broaden participation in CS. Bootstrap is using data sets from other subjects in their curriculum. So both are using CS and programming to help students learn about a lot more than just computer science or the subject they are taking. Note that Bootstrap also has Bootstrap Physics! and Bootstrap Algebra.

While I was doing all this thinking Mike Zamansky posted this post - Teaching CS - How early and how often? Mike askes a lot of practical questions about fitting CS into grades k through 8. It’s easy for us zealots to say that CS should be in every grade and expect K8 teachers to make magic but that is not really fair to anyone. Maybe the answer is to have some teaspoons of CS in existing subjects. It doesn’t make a lot of sense unless adding this CS makes learning the subject it is imbedded into better though.

We’ve seen for years in higher education that computer science and [some other area of study] can be a big win. Can we move some of that down to lower grades? Probably though it is going to take some time and some innovation. It’s worth doing, in my not so humble opinion. We use math in other subjects. We use reading and writing in every subject. Might not CS help teach/lean a lot more subjects than just programming? I think so.


Anonymous said...

When I taught school computing I always added material from other subjects to exercises in databases or Excel. It seemed only sensible to give real life data.

Anonymous said...

I agree