The Future of Computer Science Education

Why We Need to Improve Access to Computer Science Education for all K-12 Students

Dec 18, 2018 By FIRST Staff





Organized by the nonprofit each year in early December, Computer Science Education Week is an annual celebration dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science. Critically, the week also gets educators, business leaders, government officials, nonprofit organizers, and more discussing ways to make computer science education more widely available in K-12 education.

As part of our efforts to celebrate computer science education, the FIRST social media team (@firstweets) hosted a #FIRSTInspiresChat on Twitter. FIRST sponsors, alumni, educators, mentors, and students joined FIRST President Don Bossi (@don_bossi) and computer science teacher and FIRST mentor Naomi Edwards (@naomiTeaches) to reflect on the current landscape of computer science education, where it’s headed, and how we can improve access for educators, parents, and students alike. Here are a few of our takeaways from the thoughtful conversation:

Everyone can benefit from a computer science education
The U.S. has a huge skills gap in computer science training. According to stats compiled by, 58 percent of all new jobs in STEM are in computing, but just 8 percent of STEM graduates are in computer science. Plus, understanding the fundamentals of computer science and computational thinking benefits more than just those who will go into programming. “The skills that students build doing computer science are needed in a lot of different jobs from marketing, fashion design to robotics and beyond,” noted the folks at LEGO Education. “In our tech-rich society, computational thinking helps you understand the tools you use every day and their limitations,” Bossi said.

Computer science education needs to be a core part of the K-12 curriculum
Just 15 states have policies giving all high school students access to computer science courses, and only six of those give all K-12 students access, according to “There are still states in which computer science doesn’t count towards high school graduation math or science requirements,” said Jay Flores (@JayFlores2032) of Rockwell Automation. These barriers can prevent educators and parents from prioritizing learning computer science as part of a student’s K-12 education. “By learning CS, students build skills that will help them be successful today and in the future,” the folks at LEGO Education (@LEGO_Education) noted.

Parents have the power to encourage computer science exploration
Even if computer science isn’t a part of a student’s school curriculum, there are many ways parents can spark interest and encourage exploration in their children. “Check out local clubs, libraries, and maker spaces together!” Edwards noted. “Parents are the first inspiration for young minds.”

Young people need computer science role models
Role models and mentors can have a great impact on encouraging young people to pursue computer science or other STEM fields – especially for underserved, underrepresented, and vulnerable youth. Groups like the Society of Women Engineers (@SWEtalk) and Girls Who Code (@GirlsWhoCode) are working to help girls and young women see themselves in STEM through mentorship.

Computer science is more accessible than ever
There are many great programs and resources available to help students, parents, and educators get inspired and learning computer science in and out of the classroom. Flores noted many of them, including the Hour of Code (@codeorg), Scratch (@scratch), Codecademy (@Codecademy), and – of course – FIRST (@FIRSTweets)! Most important is getting kids excited and inspired. “The first step is getting kids interested and excited about computer science,” said Bossi. “I believe in putting inspiration first, so a great way to do this is to give students a challenging problem they can tackle hands-on.”


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