Every four years or so, usually during presidential primary season, I visit the Political Compass website. After a short survey, the website uses your stance on various issues to mark where you stand on graph measuring economic and social beliefs. It also shows where you stand relative to various historical persons.
Some local history on one of the first large-scale university computers.
They secured $25,000 in University funds and $17,000 from the National Science Foundation for constructing PENNSTAC — Penn State Automatic Computer. The machine they envisioned would cost $300,000 on the commercial market. Yet building it from scratch, Tarpley said, would provide his team of faculty and graduate students invaluable hands-on experience.
According to a 1957 account in the Daily Collegian student newspaper, PENNSTAC could “perform 1,400 additions of 10-digit numbers in one second, and its magnetic drum can store 2.5 thousand 10-digit figures.”
This is wonderful.
“While many middle-class US students go home to internet access, allowing them to do research, write papers, and communicate digitally with their teachers and other students, too many lower-income children go unplugged every afternoon when school ends,” the White House said in a statement, first reported by Bloomberg. The announcement comes after a new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers that shows income is still the biggest barrier to gaining broadband access, even over geography.
This story seems to come up every year. Sadly, I find myself paying attention to it only after seeing my first monarchs last year in Shenandoah National Park. They are friendly and beautiful creatures.
Fortunately, there is a way to help:
In an attempt to counter two decades of destruction, the Fish and Wildlife Service launched a partnership with two private conservation groups, the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, to basically grow milkweed like crazy in the hopes of saving the monarchs.
Here is a website where you can order free milkweed seeds! I ordered mine moments ago and will be littering the edges of the field next to my house, where I saw a monarch flying last summer.
Probably true. Most coders learn to code for the purpose of coding, not teaching. I have always said programming is a useful skill for every career, to one degree or another.
The Kentucky Senate has recently passed a bill permitting students in public schools to use computer programming classes to satisfy their foreign language credit requirements. This is a big move forward that will intrinsically prepare students for career positions that are in demand.
The goal is to enhance programming skills, enabling more Kentucky students to land high-paying jobs in the growing computer industry, said Sen. David Givens, the bill’s sponsor.
Preparing students for the workforce seems as though it gets buried in our education system. By themselves, students often don’t see the importance of building skill sets that are in demand until their education is behind them. Having the knowledge to know what careers are demanded in today’s world begins by enabling it in education, and Kentucky has clearly taken a leadership position to prepare our youth for their future.
I have always believed that programming should be an education fundamental, and I’m encouraged to see another headline indicating that we’re moving further in that direction. It would be interesting to see a state-by-state breakdown of jobs twenty years from now to see the impact of this change. I hope to see other states follow suit by passing similar legislation.
(via The Loop)
To generate some discussion around Computer Science Education Week, Marketplace has asked their Facebook followers (alongside their podcast): “Do you think that kids should be taught computer programming in school as a fundamental, alongside reading, writing, math, and science?”
Beyond those of us that program every day (namely, software developers), understanding the fundamentals of computer programming has become necessity for any field that observes trends or models data. At a minimum, understanding how to build a presentable webpage is a good skill to have for both the sciences and the arts.
My first programming class was an after-school nightmare on an Apple IIGS. I was in elementary school, somewhere between the age of 7 and 9, and stayed after school for what I thought was an opportunity to draw and play games on the school’s small handful of computers. Little did I know, a few of us had gathered to be mentored by a high-school student who would show us how to input data into a computer. By the end, we had learned how to program the computer to ask our name, and upon entering it, have it reply back in terminal-green type, “Hello, Ryan”. With our hands held, we had written our first command-line computer programs, and had absolutely no idea what we were doing.
Without a doubt, the few hours I spent during this extra-curricular “course” planted a seed somewhere in me that made me choose computer engineering over another engineering field. Thank you, Fawn Area Elementary School.