Gaining Career Confidence Through Computer Science

We love hearing stories from across the PLTW Network and highlighting the amazing things schools are doing to advance students’ access to – and interest in – computer science. 

We welcome you to share your own story and showcase how your school or district is inspiring confidence by bringing computer science education to the classroom.

Read on for three stories from across the network:

Finding Their Passion

Jacob Popanda is a PLTW Computer Science teacher at Badger High School in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

The immersive PLTW Computer Science curriculum helps build confidence by allowing students to "fail" in a non-critical environment. My students are encouraged to try various methods to solve problems with little to no negative connotations if the solutions or methods do not work. It allows them to learn that computer science often requires vast computational-thinking and problem-solving skills.

I have had a few students who were entirely unsure of what career they would like to pursue beyond high school. Upon completion of computer science courses, these students had a passionate interest in software development and data mining and are now enrolled in collegiate programs for those fields.

Achieving Success

Garret Andreasen is a PLTW Computer Science teacher at Pacific High School in Pacific, Missouri.

Three years ago, we began offering PLTW Computer Science. In that year, a group of sophomore students thrived with programming. That group of students also joined Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), which offered a couple competitions around programming.

During the 2017-18 school year, these students took first place at State in Computer Game and Design. The following year, they took fifth place at Nationals and also placed first in 3-D Animation. PLTW laid a foundation for this group of students to build and apply their skills and offered a gateway into what they are now pursuing as a career.

Experiencing Real-World Relevance

Bryan Persons is a K-12 STEM specialist at New Foundations Charter School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Christopher Hicks of the graduating class of 2018 created a desktop drum that, when hit by a drum stick, is programmed to create a digitally created sound. The goal of the drum was for the music class in our school to create different types of digital instruments that would be able to produce different sounds. He presented his product to the CEO, high school principal, and music teacher at the end of the year, and his presentation went really well. Chris showed off his work and mentioned at the end of it that this could be replicated year to year.

Through his exposure to numerous computer science courses, he has decided to pursue a college degree in computer science at Rowan University. Like Chris, other students involved with the computer science program benefit greatly. They’re exposed to college and career choices that otherwise would not be available to them. 

PLTW’s blog intends to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.