Over 2,200 New York City public high school students convened in Washington Heights Tuesday to participate in the 2019 NYC Computer Science Fair, the largest event of its kind in City history. It was CSF’s sixth edition, giving students hands-on activities with local tech organizations, including exhibitors, a pitch contest, student project showcases, interactive presentations and networking opportunities.
The NYC CSF’s primary goal is to connect with students who are part of the New York City Department of Education’s Computer Science for All (CS4All) initiative – which aims to bring high-quality CS education to every student in the New York City public school system by 2025. Launched in 2015, the initiative aspires to train nearly 5,000 local teachers and will focus on female, Black and Latinx students. Judging from this week’s participants, the program may be a long way from its diversity objective.
Hosted by Tech:NYC, Computer Science for New York City (CSNYC) and Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS – a Microsoft Philanthropies program), the event included remarks voicing support for STEM education by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.
Also joining this year’s fair were 100+ area companies and academic institutions, including Accenture, Brooklyn College, Etsy, Facebook, LaGuardia Community College, Queens College, Shutterstock, and Warby Parker. Attending students represented over 70 city schools from all five boroughs.
Tuesday’s signature event was the Student Showcase, which allowed ten teams from eight local schools to demo various tech projects, including websites, apps, games, robotics, machines and software. The ten teams were comprised of 25 students from Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, and were selected from an application pool of 47 teams total. Schools represented were: Automotive High School, Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, Brooklyn Technical High School, East Williamsburg Scholars Academy, Forest Hills High School, Information Technology High School, Millennium Art Academy and Robert H. Goddard High School 308.
The VIP panel of judges for the showcase project competition, included Microsoft TEALS Startup Advocate Frank Denbow and Girls Who Code VP of Programs Tarika Barrett, among others.
“With all of these new jobs and the digital economy, it’s really important for three reasons that we have computer science. One is citizenship. We don’t need everyone to be doctors or physicists, but when you participate in civic society and … you’re going to vote on some of these issues, it’s important they know all of the foundational knowledge you have to know behind (technology). [Also], whatever job you end up having in the future and even now, computational thinking is going to be a required part of that. And the last thing is technology companies want to move computer science forward and we need software engineers to do that.”
Kevin Wang, founder of TEALS, and former schoolteacher.
ABOUT TECH:NYC – Tech:NYC is an engaged network of technology leaders working to foster a dynamic, diverse, and creative New York. The organization works with policymakers and business leaders to support a successful technology ecosystem, attract and retain talent, and celebrate New York and the companies that call it home. Tech:NYC represents more than 700 New York tech companies.
ABOUT CSNYC – CSNYC aims to ensure that all of New York City’s 1.1 million public school students have access to a high-quality computer science education that puts them on a pathway to college and career success. CSNYC supports CS4All, a 10-year, $81M public-private partnership to bring computer science to all NYC students with an emphasis on female, black and Latinx students.
ABOUT TEALS –Microsoft Philanthropies TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) helps high schools throughout the US and British Columbia, Canada build and grow sustainable computer science programs. In its proven program, TEALS pairs trained computer science professionals from across the technology industry with classroom teachers to team-teach computer science. TEALS was founded in 2009 by former high school CS teacher and Microsoft engineer Kevin Wang, who now runs the program full time.