December 8 was the birthday of computing pioneer, Grace Hopper. In commemoration, her birthday every year marks Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) intended to spotlight the transformative role of computing and the need to bolster computer science at all educational levels.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is pleased to join in recognizing CSEdWeek 2012.

"Computer Science--or more broadly information technology or computing--drives our economy, ensures global competitiveness, accelerates the pace of discovery and is crucial to achieve many of America's national and societal priorities," said Jan Cuny, NSF program manager for computer education and broadening participation.

"Yet, despite the growing demand for IT specialists and professionals with computer science skills in all disciplines, we are teaching less computer science in our schools," she continued, noting that just 19 percent of high school students take computer science courses.

Cuny touts the enormous potential of computing. She argues that regardless of a student's interests, computer science education will enable and empower students to "do what they want to do even better, at a higher level." She notes, "how cool this stuff is."

Accomplished computer scientists discuss their career choice of computer science, their research and its impact on society in a video by the National Science Foundation. Image Credit: National Science Foundation.

She is not alone in her assessment. Attached is a video in which a variety of NSF-funded computer scientists proclaim the virtues of their computer science education and boast about a profession to which they are committed--a field, they believe, is exciting, challenging, cool and will change the world.

Computer science is the only STEM--science, technology, engineering and mathematics--discipline with more job openings than there are college graduates to fill them. Leadership in NSF's directorate for Computer Information Science and Engineering (CISE) is working to address this underproduction problem by promoting ways to make computer science more prevalent, engaging and accessible to K-12 students.

Last year, NSF began publishing its CS Bits & Bytes newsletters to participate in CSEdWeek 2011.

Now in its second year, CS Bits & Bytes continues to engage students across the country in the exciting field of computer science. Biweekly issues highlight cutting edge scientific research, videos, interactive activities and profile a computer scientist from the diversity of individuals who do this inspiring, multidisciplinary work. To reach the desired middle and high school level audience, NSF has drawn on the expertise of those in its Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program--comprised of elementary and secondary STEM teachers from around the country serving at NSF.

CS Bits & Bytes has been well received by the academic community worldwide, with subscribers from 17 countries. Positive comments from subscribers abound.

"I devour your newsletter for ideas and inspiration for my programming classes," wrote Rose Truglio of Lindenhurst High School in New York, "As the only [computer science] teacher in the district, I truly enjoy connecting in some way with other educators who are challenged with keeping the flame of innovation and programming alive in our schools, even without mandates for its instruction."

"I love having this resource to show students that CS can be fun, can help make lives better, and is applicable no matter what your interests are," wrote Pauline White of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School in New York.

"We look at each issue of Bits & Bytes as it comes out," said Suzy Crowe of Milton High School in Georgia, "Students love the insight it provides into computing, applications, and what Computer Science is all about."

"I love being able to connect real world situations to what [students] are learning in the classroom," added Heather Subocz of Franklin High School in New Hampshire.

Issues profile interesting professionals and academics in the field, as well as the creative applications in which they are involved. In addition, each issue suggests activities to engage and educate students and teachers--to entertain while teaching. Since its launch in 2011, 21 issues have been published covering a wide range of topics:

  • Accessible Voting Enabled by Human-Centered Computing
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Big Data
  • Biomimetic Robots
  • Building a Better Battery
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Cryptography
  • Cyber Crime
  • Human Computation
  • Kidney Exchange
  • Language Processing
  • Machine Learning Saves Babies!
  • Navigating a 3D World
  • Scratch
  • Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace
  • Self Driving Cars
  • Sensors
  • Smart Grids
  • Turning Thoughts Into Action
  • Women in Computing

Visit the CS Bits & Bytes website to subscribe.