If the Industrial Revolution
was about extending
the power of
with inventions like the Steam Engine, then
the computer revolution is about extending
the power of
the human mind
Algorithms: The Ever
Knowing Way Of The Future
. NPR: All Things Considered. May 14, 2012.
Teaching High School
As if the Rest of the World Existed:
across the Secondary
LOW OVERALL ENROLLMENTS
who administers CE21 funding
at NSF, has
repeatedly said that
high school is the crucial piece in boosting enrollment numbers:
the HS piece, anything we do for middle school will be lost
we do at the college level will be insufficient.
Result of a survey polling 836 calculus and pre
calc high school students
showed that High School students are severely lacking in experience with
computing, particularly in formal classroom experience.
The vast majority
of students had
of what a Computer Science major entails
The top reasons for not choosing a CS major for both male and female
[students] were the lack of desire to sit in front of a computer all day, and
the fact that they had already chosen another major.
The number one
reason to choose a CS major for men was their interest in computer
games, and for women was their desire to
use it in another field
Why Students with an Apparent Aptitude for Computer Science Don’t
Choose to Major in Computer Science.
SIGCSE ’06, March 1
5, 2006, Houston,
America’s youth perceive Computer Science to be
. Unfortunately, many traditional introductory
Computer Science classes and textbooks do little to improve that image.
Kay, Jennifer (Rowan
Contextualized Approaches to Introductory
Computer Science: The Key to Making Computer Science Relevant or
SIGCSE’11, March 9
12, 2011, Dallas, Texas, USA .
introductory Computer Science are very attractive. Instead of writing a leap
year program, students can learn about conditional statements by
to follow a light, or by creating an
animation to tell a
, or even by
modifying a picture
of the college president so that she is
wearing a neon orange jacket instead of a navy blue one.
The arguments in favor of contextualized approaches to attract non
majors to our classes are very persuasive. But what
about students who then choose to major or minor in Computer Science?
Of course we want to offer them interesting and engaging first courses in
, and indeed this may help with our efforts to attract more
students to our programs.
But what happens in subsequent semesters?
x fewer students
took the CS exam than
took Calculus AB.
Low Overall Enrollments
It’s safe to say that
courses with the least
as academic subjects,
i.e. they have an
image / P.R. problem
” contextualized approaches (media, Alice, Scratch) may be having
limited success or showing promise at the post
secondary level, but they
don’t seem to be doing much for high school enrollment numbers.
These are good tools, but they may need to be used differently.
A reasonable tactic might be to somehow
hitch our wagon
” to the academic subjects that
students already flock to, and whose value they already
Attempting to address the problems of low enrollments and low
participation rates by females and URMs, CS educators and policy makers
determined that CS education needs to begin in earnest as early as
. Using such innovative programming environments as
Alice, Processing and Scratch
, and a range of curricula from simple to
sophisticated, educators have sought to introduce students at all K
levels to "computational thinking".
One major deficiency, though, is a
for this material.
Though this was a problem before the introduction of these tools,
students after such courses are still left with little to no idea how they can
use the concepts they’ve learned in
. No matter how engaged students may be, if the contexts for
the problems they work on are
message teachers send is that CS has no real world applications of any
consequence or value beyond entertainment, self
expression or theory
Such curricula tend to trivialize CS in pursuit of a
off for a
rise in engagement at the expense of real world connections (and rigor).
Such curricula typically focus exclusively on concepts that have
traditionally been part and parcel of lower level college CS courses for the
last two or three decades
for all intents and purposes unchanged
Additionally, they do nothing to counter the popular misconception
pigeonholing CS as a field whose principal applications are limited to
Gaming, Social Media, the Internet and Mobile Devices
During those same decades, however, the applications of CS have
expanded to encompass a hugely diverse range of academic, scientific,
commercial and social fields.
12 CS educators have failed to
incorporate or even reference these CONNECTIONS in their curricula in
any serious or comprehensive way
An apt comparison might be teaching the fingerings of a musical
instrument using only practice exercises, with no attempt to play real
music compositions, even simplified ones. By not staying current vis
the reach of CS across academic fields, educators have acquiesced in a
curriculum that is by default
A review of recent literature regarding interdisciplinary approaches
to teaching CS found the following programs at the college level:
Bioinformatics / Computational Biology
: 157 undergraduate
programs [majors/minors] in North America
: Mathematical Modeling of Biological
Systems (Truman State
of Massachusetts, Lowell / Computing and Music
Committee of SIGCSE 2010)
of Michigan, CMU)
: math games, graph theory, heuristics
(Kingsborough Community College of the City
of New York)
(College of New Jersey)
UNCC offered "a highly interdisciplinary course to students during
the Spring 2007 semester:
DESIGN OF INTELLIGENT SPACECRAFT
The course integrates concepts from mathematics, physics,
engineering and computer science for the purpose of educating 4th
year undergraduate and introductory masters
level students on the
design of intelligent spacecraft. Course content is divided into two
pedagogically separate parts":
The historical development of physical models, including
mathematical models for celestial mechanics and
Application of these models for creating intelligent spacecraft, i.e.,
applications of these models to pattern recognition, computer
vision, and image processing.
Willis, A; Conrad, J.M.
Design Of Intelligent Spacecraft: An Interdisciplinary
Engineering Education Course
. Proceedings of the 2008 ASEE Conference,
Pittsburgh, PA, June 2008.
DESIGN OF INTELLIGENT SPACECRAFT (cont)
. Specific classical topics include celestial mechanics and
thermodynamics which are introduced using excerpts from original
works of the scientists that defined and revolutionized our
understandings of these fields. Some scientists considered are
, Newton, Euler, Bernoulli, Fourier
scientists relevant to course topics. Historical content is
complemented with discussion on
contemporary space missions
relevant to the discussion topic. For example, historical discussions
on the discoveries of
includes discussions on the
Huygens mission to Saturn. Further, these discussions
mission spacecraft type
relevant design considerations
. Discussion of mission objectives serve to
current boundaries of scientific knowledge
specific space missions seek to understand topics at these
DESIGN OF INTELLIGENT SPACECRAFT (cont)
Students implemented programs relevant to spacecraft
design. Programs included
mechanics, thermodynamics, and signal processing programs for
image manipulation and signal compression. Project topics reinforce
topics covered in Part
of the course. Results for physical
simulations are compared against theoretically perfect results for
thermodynamic simulations and established gold
NASA’s HORIZONS system in the case of celestial mechanics.
Applications of these mathematical models in electrical engineering
lead to signal processing projects which motivate subsequent course
This paper includes successes, failures and lessons learned in
teaching a course with such diverse content
and analyzes how well
mixture of history / engineering was received by the students
(North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad)
includes problems in both
. "The traditional problems are in
the style of the International Linguistics Olympiad (ILO) and include
deciphering texts in lesser
known languages (such as
Bolivia, Hmong from Cambodia, and
from India), as well as
number, kinship, and calendar systems. We have collaborated
closely with colleagues in linguistics departments to collect original
problems in this genre."
"The computational linguistics problems are the most innovative
component of the contest ... So far, we have included problems in
Optical Character Recognition
Finite State Automata
, D.; Levin, L.
Engaging High School Students in Interdisciplinary Studies:
Expanding the Pipeline
. Computing Research News, Vol. 21/No. 4, September
is emerging as a
discipline in its own right, gaining traction in higher education. For
offers a course on computational journalism
recently announced a new dual Master of
Science program in Computer Science and Journalism. At
, researchers and professors at the DeWitt Wallace
Center for Media & Democracy are examining computational
journalism, and journalists and computer scientists are working
together to create software tools intended to help reporters move
more quickly to produce in
depth, authoritative stories. The Medill
School of Journalism at
scholarships to lure programmers and web developers to their
journalism master’s degree program.
, S.M.; Shaw, D.;
Gumshoe: A Model for Undergraduate
Computational Journalism Education
. SIGCSE’11, March 9
12, 2011, Dallas,
Initially, an Excel spreadsheet was created that listed demographic data for each
person arrested for violating 18 Pa. C.S.A.
6106, carrying a firearm without a
license, in a sample period of January
February 2006. … 613 defendants were
tracked… Using Pennsylvania’s online court dockets, the journalism students
painstakingly created and populated several more columns of data, for example
felony charges like murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, rape, etc. while in
possession of a firearm that, under Pennsylvania law, theoretically should result in a
convicted gun offender receiving a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five
The project wanted to answer the questions:
What happens to defendants arrested for gun
How many people serve prison time for committing violent felonies with guns?
Are cases regularly being dismissed or bargained down?
The goal of the project was defined as developing a CAR (Computer
Reporting) system to store, manage, track, and query data on gun crime in the
Based on 859 dockets in a two month sample, the data and results of the analysis
were presented to The Inquirer, which in December 2009 published a four
series that documented the widespread failure of violent
crime prosecutions in the
Philadelphia court system.
Taking a broad look at the crimes of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated
assault, the newspaper revealed a dysfunctional system in which defendants had a
better than 50
50 chance of walking free, with dismissal or withdrawal of all
The series showed that Philadelphia had the nation’s lowest felony conviction rate
even as law
enforcement authorities struggled with crime rates above the national
However, as the data grew, effective data management and analysis became more
challenging… It was clear that a well
designed database system would go a long way
in helping to analyze the data and find meaningful patterns and information.
Moreover, it would eliminate data redundancy, improve data integrity, improve data
accessibility, and enforce data consistency. The students in the project spent time
analyzing a number of data querying and organization methodologies to determine
which would be most effective for the CAR system.
"Now more than ever, we musicians find ourselves in an age
where technologically almost anything is possible. It is therefore
crucial that we understand what makes computers function and
acquire a strong working knowledge of programs and the coding
behind them. Interdisciplinary collaboration helps cultivate new and
exciting innovations that can bring about the revitalization of CS
education for which
was conceived. Using music as a
hook, we can create innovative live performances and interesting
visuals in conjunction with “musical live coding” to tap the imagination
of people who might never have considered CS as a possible major.
People (like myself) tend to be intimidated by the mystifying technical
jargon. However, with more exposure to interesting multi
projects, students can start thinking computationally and actively using
that new way of thinking in a hands
on way without even realizing they
are doing so."
Ruthmann, A.; Heines, J.M.; Greher, G.R.; Laidler, P.; Saulters, C.
Computational Thinking through Musical Live Coding in Scratch
3, 2010, Milwaukee, WI
In CS Education, new student software tools appear at a relatively
fast clip, e.g.
, but little
thought is focused on how best to use these tools. In
high school educational settings, these tools are primarily used to
engage students using story
telling or games, and lesson content is
Moreover, curricula fail to
explore and fully exploit in new ways
that these tools offer. The strength of
is their ability to visually model problems
and clarify the algorithms used for their solution.
For example, using
, students can build a simplified replica of
the solar system
(and contemplate calculating the trajectory of a space mission
; they can use
to construct biologically important
molecules to elucidate disease or drug mechanisms.
That is, they
can use these IDEs to build on
Curricula centered around tasks such as skaters performing
pirouettes around holes in the ice tend to
in pursuit of a
off for engagement at the
expense of real
connections and rigor
(though this instructor found students
quickly losing patience with make
An alternative to a CS
first curriculum is one whose units
revolve around a
which students solve over a
period of several weeks using whatever CS tools are needed.
(Interactive Mathematics Program), created
with the support of NSF in the 1990s, is such a curriculum.
year program of problem
based mathematics that replaces the
units are generally structured around a complex central
problem. Although each unit has a specific mathematical focus,
other topics are brought in as needed to solve the central problem,
rather than narrowly restricting the mathematical content. Ideas
that are developed in one unit are usually revisited and deepened in
one or more later units."
For example, although the real
world application is a stretch, the
complex problem posited by
) unit has
students calculate at what point a circus performer on a turning Ferris
wheel should dive so as to land in a tub of water on a moving cart.
IMP: Interactive Mathematics Program
problem. Students extend
functions to the circular functions
, learn about the
graphs of the sine and
, and the
and study the
physics of falling
Software Engineering Approach.
Computer Science’s natural
relationship to other disciplines is
a field which uses
programming and CS concepts, along with expert knowledge of
, to model and solve societal problems and needs. The vast
lie outside the field of CS proper.
Guidelines for Interdisciplinary Problem
Based CS Units
Week Central Problem
. Each unit lasts several weeks and
solving a central problem in the target
software solution evolves in a
way, utilizing whatever CS
concepts and control structures may be required. Various strategies are
attempted at each step in a problem’s solution, and students examine the
advantages and disadvantages.
Modeled After Real Applications.
One way instructors can foster
connections is by having students create
small scale versions of engaging
and complex real world applications
. With little imagination, students
should be able to envision logical extensions of their projects to the already
existing and more complex programs from which student exercises were
Social / Historical Context
. Units also place the central problem within a
SOCIAL or HISTORICAL CONTEXT.
This provides students an explanation
solving the central problem is important in the first place
. These so
may utilize Literature, Theatre, History, Social Studies, Economics,
Film and Art in making those connections. This is
done in a tokenistic way.
This part of the unit may take up to several days and in some cases more than a
week of class time. Students are assessed on this material in a serious way, such
as writing an essay in response to a choice of several prompts.
Interdisciplinary Knowledge Provides Context
. To solve a unit’s central
problem, students will need to become familiar with relevant concepts in
geometry, trigonometry, biology, physics and so forth. This reflects typical
considerations that software engineers encounter in their day
day work, i.e.
programmers must not only be proficient in their own field, but
knowledge of the specific non
CS systems they are modeling in order to write
accurate, robust and logically organized programs
. Pedagogically, this gives
for recalling and integrating what they learn.
Guidelines for Interdisciplinary Problem
Based CS Curricula
Connections to Other Academic Fields
. Units should
make CREDIBLE con
to topics students have already studied
in other ACADEMIC courses
Around the World in
Relativity of Time Perception when Circumnavigating the Globe
Excerpts from Jules Verne's
Around the World in 80 Days
, Commanding the Sun to Stand Still: Galileo's Revolution
Modeling the Copernican and
Planetary Systems to illustrate the phases
of Venus and retrograde planetary motion (using
. The Inquisition and
Galileo's Recanting of the Copernican Model.
Life of Galileo
The Right to Vote
Optical Scan Technology and Voting Machines.
Democracy in the context of both
the women's suffrage movement and the contested 2000 Florida Presidential
Units written (1
draft) and taught (2011)
The Discovery of the DNA Double Helix
Biology / Biophysics / History of Science
Computer Graphics and Molecular Modeling Software as applied to the
of bases between
the two anti
parallel strands of a DNA
Using this structural model to
explain point mutations.
complex interactions/clashes between the discoverers of the structure of
DNA: Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, Frances Crick and
/ Double Helix
Click on the
Login as a guest button
Computer Science Ethics: IBM's Strategic Contribution to the Efficiency of
Before the invention of computers,
PUNCH CARD TECHNOLOGY
was used to solve database
sorting and tallying algorithms
used by Hollerith machines to process
these cards were precursors of methods used
IBM and its German
active participants in the processing of
census data used to identify, transport
and exterminate the Disabled, Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals and Communists throughout
Europe from 1933 through 1945. E
xcerpts from the book:
IBM and the Holocaust
Diary of Anne Frank
A Film Unfinished
Units in the planning stages
Evolution and Social Reaction
Evolution, Genetics, Bioinformatics
Using Genomic Databases to Align DNA/Protein sequences from related species
and Build Phylogenetic (Evolutionary) Trees
Inherit the Wind
The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple
Prey Population Simulation Software, and the unintended
consequences of human activity, such as overfishing
On the Road
Geometry / Math
GPS and Routing Programs
A GPS program based upon triangulation of satellite data, equations for
calculating longitude and latitude on a sphere, and a geographic database.
A routing program using
shortest path algorithm (like MapQuest).
Music Visualization Software
Music Animation Machine
Wendy Carlos: Electronically Synthesized Music
IBM’s Role in the Holocaust
IBM and the Holocaust
Teacher Seminar on Bioinformatics:
Computer Science in a Biological Context
Location: Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA (85 miles west of Philadelphia)
Dates: Last Week in June, 2½ Day Workshop, Application, Stipend
Contact: Prof. Ellie Rice (
Databases, Online Resources
National Center for Biotechnology Information
Joint project of
Welcome Trust Sanger Institute
Protein Data Bank
The Clinic for Special Children
, Strasburg, PA
Studying and Treating Genetic Diseases of the Old Amish & Mennonite Communities
Through My Window
Remarks at the 125
Year Celebration of Children’s Hospital of Boston:
Bioinformatics Activity Bank
Books on Bioinformatics
Bioinformatics for Dummies
An Introduction to Bioinformatics Algorithms
Neil C. Jones
Exploring Bioinformatics: A Project
Authors: Caroline St. Clair & Jonathan E.
Augmented reality ads that virtually bring products to life.
A digital fashion show with customizable models that match the
consumer's clothing size and body type.
Video billboards that let advertisers change their messages daily.
Archaeology & Anthropology
Software that helps archaeologists determine the age of ancient
An online oral history project that collects songs and stories from
Native American cultures.
D virtual museum of religious objects from indigenous
communities around the world.
Art & Art History
A database to preserve images of fragile paintings and sculpture.
A virtual tour of an ancient Greek or Chinese temple.
D drawing and painting program that lets an artist simulate
definition videoconferencing that makes it feel as if everyone is
in the same room.
A cloud computing platform that hosts a company's technology
infrastructure, saving huge amounts of time and money.
that transforms dull spreadsheets into interactive
Astronomy & Space Exploration
Powerful telescopes that offer high resolution imaging of our earliest
Sophisticated explorer robots that collect samples on other planets.
enabled sky chart app to easily locate stars, planets, and
A communications device with voice synthesis and a touch screen
that enables speech
impaired stroke patients to carry on
Software that allows military and government agencies to instantly
share classified data about potential terrorist attacks.
Computer Graphics & Media
D simulation of the rise in sea levels around the world from
Crowd flow models to ensure the safety of cars and pedestrians
during parades, concerts, and sporting events.
enabled refrigerators and cabinets that monitor your food
supplies and organize your shopping list based on the recipes
A digital cookbook that guides you from the beginning of a recipe to
the end, and includes a question
A sensor that lines the bottom of a cake pan and notifies you when
your cake is done to perfection.
Interactive whiteboards that are even more interactive.
Software for medical schools that features 3
D virtual patients
Digital research labs that link international scientists virtually,
allowing them to collaborate on pressing global issues.
Software that can predict the durability of bridges during earthquakes.
" wheelchair with a GPS navigator for severely handicapped
Solar design software that analyzes the type of solar panels that
would work the best in a green building.
A program that helps people with physical disabilities create art,
even though they may no longer be able to hold a paintbrush.
A computer chip that enables people who are paralyzed to move their
GPS systems for people who are blind.
Fashion & Design
A shopping app that helps you choose styles
and then recommends
matching accessories, and where to buy them.
A home design program that records a room's parameters and helps
the user redesign realistically and within budget.
Film, TV & Theatre
A digital set design program that lets you add virtual actors to the set
and visualize how all the elements interact.
Internet TV that lets you talk to your friends, browse web sites, and
update social media, all while watching the program of your
Software that can monitor the spread of pollution through the Great
Wireless sensors that can track endangered polar bears in the
Environmental forecasting that allows scientists to collect and analyze
climate change data from every corner of the world.
Forensics & Detective Work
A DNA scanner that can instantly sift through the files of crime
A mobile forensics lab for on
spot analysis of evidence at crime
Software that can create a 3
D visualization of blood spatter based on
the type of weapon used and the proposed orientation of the
murderer and victim.
Video games that rely more on a teen's brainpower than finger
Games that speak to the interests and experiences of girls and
Computer games designed to address the social and educational
needs of autistic children.
Health & Fitness
A wearable device that calculates how many calories a person burns
Interactive simulations that demonstrate yoga sequences
the poses according to one's level of experience.
A pharmaceutical app that helps you identify thousands of
drug interactions and potential side effects.
A secure database to record human rights abuses that shields the
identity of victims or witnesses.
Online petition software that can instantly collect signatures about
A mobile toolkit that allows human rights workers to discreetly video
and document abuses in remote or dangerous areas.
A single interface that gathers and streams together all the social
media we use.
A personalized search engine so accurate it seems to be reading our
Humanitarian & Disaster Relief
location devices to keep relief workers and
separated families connected during disasters.
A camera phone microscope that can diagnose diseases in remote
areas without access to hospitals.
A mobile device that lets reporters research and fact
check stories as
they write them, without having to open a separate search
time news feed that provides updates in five, ten, or twenty
minute intervals for news
A recording device that picks up an interviewee's voice even when
there's lots of ambient noise
and provides a highly accurate
A web portal with a database of pro bono lawyers and other legal
services for low
A mobile app that puts all state and federal laws at a lawyer's
An online small claims court site that helps people prepare, file, and
serve a claim quickly and cheaply.
Audio language translators that sound like a native speaker instead of
A smart recorder that translates your question into another language,
and then translates the response of a native speaker into
A wearable computer for people who are deaf that translates
American Sign Language.
readers that hold an entire library of books.
books with animated illustrations.
A cyber bookstore that's "device neutral," and lets users download
content to any smart phone.
conferencing allowing for a real
time consultation among
doctors in different parts of the world.
based fetal monitor for rural areas.
A cloud computing storage platform for your entire music collection,
so you can play anything anytime from any device.
line guitar instructor that lets you know when you’re out of tune
or if your rhythm is off.
Software that analyzes DNA sequencing in plant and animal
Global climate models to predict how Earth's climate is
A data mining tool that measures poverty and income inequality
around the world.
A news app that collects and organizes articles and videos about the
political issues you care about.
A mobile tool allowing urban dwellers to report potholes, trash, and
other local annoyances directly to city hall.
Virtual political communities that mobilize people to meet and organize
in real life.
Poverty & Social Justice
A program that identifies available shelter space for the homeless
within a city.
based tool to monitor the safety of blood supplies in
An airline accident simulator that can pinpoint a plane crash and help
rescue people faster.
An early emergency warning system in your car that can anticipate a
A phone app that helps people deal with stress and reinforces basic
cognitive therapy techniques.
Brain imaging software that helps analyze schizophrenia.
An interactive program that teaches psychologists how to have effective
conversations with their patients for short
Software that evaluates the genetic make
up of individuals with
predispositions to disease.
Simulations that can predict the strength, velocity, & path of a
Undersea vehicles that are capable of exploring the depths of the
Group texting that's easy and fast, so you can form new groups
A charity network that lets you team up with others to support a cause.
An app that offers real
time updating on scoring, stats, and other
info for baseball.
A wearable monitor that provides verbal feedback on your skiing
A marathon app that provides you with a customizable training
program, records your progress, and gives you a daily pep talk.
Robotics & Artificial Intelligence
Security systems with face, speech, and handwriting recognition
A robot than can perform brain surgery while a patient is in an
MRI machine, making impossible operations possible.