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Computer Science Department chairman Arie Kaufman, above, said it is important for children of all ages to consider using computer science because it will give students a leg up in any career choice. PHOTO COURTESY OF ARIE KAUFMAN

In the past month, the Computer Science Department has begun working on a series of new initiatives directed at inspiring students from kindergarten to 12th grade to pursue an education in computer science.

“Some faculty have always participated in small class presentations,” the department chairman, Arie Kaufman, Ph.D., said in a statement. “These efforts are now elevated to the department level and in doing so are more coordinated.”

This community outreach effort was put into action on Jan. 29 when 33 students from Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens visited the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The students spoke about coding and computer science careers with CEAS administrators, played a trivia game based on the process used by IBM’s Watson computer with Professor Paul Fodor — who helped develop Watson — and met with an admissions counselor who walked them through the process of applying to college.

Along with planning more field trips for primary school students, the Computer Science Department plans on building on its current relationship with kidOYO and Code LI, two affiliated groups focused on bringing “computational thinking into contact with students,” according to the Code LI website.

In partnership with Code LI, the Computer Science Department is set to host a #CSforall workshop on March 9, which will give K-12 teachers the opportunity to learn about implementing “creative coding” in the classroom.

The Computer Science Department has also been running a spring coding camp with kidOYO. The program, which began Jan. 31 and ends May 1, teaches kids of all skill levels about web design.

In addition to working with different coding languages like Java, Python and Javascript and delving into the world of game development, participants get to work side by side with undergraduates from the Computer Science Department to create a mobile app.

“It is important for children of all ages to consider learning computer science because of the multidisciplinary nature of the field,” Kaufman said. “Even having a simple understanding of the field… will give students a leg up no matter what career they choose.”

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Featured image credit: Lucélia Ribeiro/flickr

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