On Saturday, May 31, SUNY Buffalo State’s Computer Information Systems (CIS) Department welcomed students from five area high schools and two middle schools for its second annual CS4HS: Computer Science for High School Student Showcase and Competition.
Approximately 30 students in grades seven through 12 participated in technology competitions and presented projects ranging from computer games to robotics. Six CIS faculty members, one staff member, and two students organized the Buffalo State piece of the national event sponsored by Google that encourages the promotion of computer science education in secondary schools.
"The students showed great ingenuity in creating projects in many different areas of computer science, using different hardware and programming languages," said Neal Mazur, associate professor of CIS and primary organizer of the event. "The showcase and competition represents a unique opportunity to reward students for hard work and dedication in computer science in the same way that many students are encouraged in sports activities."
It also encourages students to pursue careers in computer science.
"By the end of this decade, one of every two jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) will be in computing,” said Sarbani Banerjee, associate professor of CIS. "This concentration of computing positions in STEM makes it imperative for K-12 students in academic programs to gain more opportunities to learn computer science."
Since 2012, Buffalo State has offered free summer workshops to Western New York high school and middle school teachers to encourage them to incorporate more computer science into their classrooms and start computer clubs in their schools as a way to attract more young people to the field. Saturday’s competition revealed what strides students can make when they have access to computer science instruction in their schools.
"The computer club provides students the opportunity to share ideas and learn from one another so they can apply to their own programs and project," said Julie Johnson, a math and computer science teacher at Williamsville North High School. "The competition is the culmination of all their hard work."
Larry Goble, a business and computer science teacher at Casey Middle School, echoed this sentiment: "It is very rewarding for the students to showcase their work after working hard on their own creations."
In late July, CIS faculty members will again offer the free CS4HS workshop for math, science, technology, and computer science teachers in the Western New York area.