Last week was Computer Science Education Week, and where better in the district to observe it than East High?

Last year was the first time an AP-level course in Computer Science Principles was authorized by the College Board and East was the first DMPS school to offer it. Tim Walljasper volunteered to train as a teacher of the new course, and he told us during Computer Ed Week that he expected increased enrollments in the years to come. So far, so good on that score.

“Yes, our enrollment for the course has doubled from a year ago,” Walljasper said during a special event in the school library on Friday. “And the course is also being offered at Roosevelt this year.”

NEWBOCO (New Bohemian Innovation Collaboration) “is a nonprofit organization, focused on ensuring that Iowa is known, around the world, for making big things happen,” according to Samantha Dahlby, the organization’s K-12 Education Director. Dahlby was at East Friday and she brought along some statistics to entice students. Here’s a sample:

  • The average salary for computing jobs in Iowa is almost $80K, compared to the overall average of $43K.
  • Only 211 Iowa high school students took the AP Computer Science exam in 2016 and only 24% of those were female.
  • There are fewer AP exams taken in Computer Science than any other STEM discipline.

Speakers from local employers including Principal, Wellmark and Associated Computer Systems (ACS) were there to emphasize the point that more IT jobs are available in Iowa than there are qualified applicants to fill them.

“If you’re a puzzle type, a problem-solver, and you don’t feel like you fit in traditional academic subject areas, there is a lucrative career path wide open for you in IT,” said Sean Johnson from ACS.

Other guests from the community included State Senator Nate Boulton and State Representative Ruth Ann Gaines, district administrators, and officials from the Iowa Department of Education. Each of them teamed up with a squad of students for a good-natured contest to create a logo animation like the different ones posted daily on the Google website homepage.

Friday’s “Google Doodle,” for instance, marked the 287th birthday of Jan Ingenhousz, the Dutch physiologist, biologist and chemist best known for discovering photosynthesis.

East School Improvement Leader Joe Spiess drew the unenviable task of judging the creations and, unlike the contestants, he was on his own, browsing the library and looking over the shoulders of the design teams while they brainstormed.

“Make sure you come up with a title for your design,” he said, which brought one from the past to mind.

Fifty years ago, The Graduate won a bunch of Oscars and Golden Globes. In one of the iconic scenes from the film, a friend of the title character’s father takes him aside at a party in the young man’s honor to offer him a word, just one, of career advice.

“Plastics,” the man says.

If the movie were remade today, the graduate might be female. And instead of plastics, the word of advice would be – computers.

Photos from Hour of Code at East High

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