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Do you know the code? If not, learn it next week!

By the year 2020, the United States could be short 1 million computer programmers, according Code.org, a nonprofit that wants to bring computer science instruction to every K-12 school.

To raise awareness of the dire need for more computer programmers and help celebrate Computer Science Education Week from Dec. 9-14, Code.org is organizing “a massive campaign to recruit 10 million students to try one hour of computer science.”

Called “Hour of Code,” the campaign revolves around the concept that every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science, which builds creativity problem-solving skills.

Jobs in computer programming are growing three times faster than the number of students entering the field, according to Code.org.
Exacerbating the problem, only 10 percent of schools in the country teach computer science, which is fewer than taught it a decade ago.

To encourage more teachers and schools to teach programming skills, Code.org has prepared free self-guided activities for students at all grade levels available at http://hourofcode.com. Tutorials will include lectures from Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, along with artwork from the popular Angry Birds and Plans vs. Zombies games.

Nearly 34,000 teachers and others had signed up to host The Hour of Code by Friday, according to the website. Of those, about 11,570 planned to involve their entire schools. Overall, participants expected to teach computer code to more than 4.5 million students in 167 countries during the week.

In the Bay Area, dozens of schools plan to join the fun, including Granada High in Livermore, where Computer Science and Technology teacher Carol Kinnard will teach The Hour of Code after school to anyone who wants to check it out.

Kinnard got turned onto computer programming in high school in 1979, when the course was brand new at her school.

“We had a math teacher who wanted to play around with the computers and teach it to us,” Kinnard said. “I saw it as this wonderful puzzle that I had to solve and this very cool mystery. I was engaged.”

Kinnard worked as a computer programmer in Silicon Valley for several years before deciding to bring her skills and knowledge to classrooms. This year, she said her program has grown from two programming classes to nine.

“I’m thrilled,” she said. “We have an AP (Advanced Placement) computer science class where the kids are delving deep into the job of programming language and a case study where they have to learn it and modify it.”

At the other end of the spectrum, she said, is Exploring Computer Science, where students learn about the Internet and basic programming language. Kinnard also teaches a midlevel course called computer science and software engineering.

“That goes deep into a lot of the ideas that computer science either generates or works with,” she said. “We do a lot of programming in that course, but we do it in a lot of different languages instead of in-depth Java.”

The course also includes data simulation, genomics, and analyzing “big data,” which involves the collection of data that is so large and complex it can be difficult to process. For example, Kinnard said the class might talk about how to analyze the all the birthrates for the entire planet and how meaningful that would be.

As the gap between computer programming jobs and qualified candidates grows, Kinnard and others participating in The Hour of Code are hoping to excite more people about pursuing programming careers.

“The divide is going to be getting worse,” Kinnard said. “It’s going to really escalate in 2014-15.”

The Hour of Code campaign is backed by Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the College Board, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and more than 100 other individuals and organizations. Computer Science Education Week starts Dec. 9 on the birthday of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a computing pioneer born in 1906.

“I think it’s going to make a difference,” Kinnard predicted, “especially if we can get teachers more educated on the value of computer science and get parents and kids to explore computer science.”

Do you think more schools should offer computer programming courses?

Posted on Friday, December 6th, 2013
Under: Education, Livermore | 1 Comment »

Livermore police and school district report ‘shelter in place’ initiated at Livermore HS to investigate suspected gun on campus

The Livermore Police and Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District issued the following news release and message to the community today regarding a report of a suspected gun at Livermore High that prompted the campus staff and students to shelter in place:

Police news release:

“DATE OF PRESS RELEASE: September 13, 2013

II. INCIDENT: Suspicious Occurrence on School Campus

III. FACTUAL INFORMATION:

On Friday, September 13, 2013 at approximately 7:10am, a concerned citizen called the Livermore Police Department to report a suspicious conversation he had overheard. The citizen said that as he was seated next to two teenage boys on a local transit bus in Livermore, he overheard one of the boys stating to the other boy that he had ‘Brass.’ The boy then made a hand gesture simulating a handgun and pointed at his backpack. Believing the boy may have possession of a handgun in his backpack, the citizen asked the boys which high school they attended as they exited the bus. The boys told him that they attended Livermore High School. The citizen watched the boys remove two bicycles from the bus and ride away.

After the boys left on their bicycles, the citizen called the Livermore Police Department and provided the police with descriptions of the boys and their bicycles they were riding. Upon receiving the information from the citizen, the Livermore Police responded to Livermore High School and found two bicycles matching the description of the boys’ bicycles. Fearing a gun may be on campus, a ‘shelter in place’ was initiated at Livermore High School as a precautionary safety measure. School administrators immediately sent an email to all the Livermore High School teachers with the two boys’ descriptions asking for their assistance in locating boys. Both boys were located in the same classroom shortly thereafter.

Upon contacting the boys, it was determined that neither of them possessed a handgun or any other weapon. One of the boys did have used/spent rifle and shotgun shells in his backpack.

After approximately 30 minutes, the ‘shelter in place’ was lifted as the Livermore Police determined there was no longer a threat on campus.

The Superintendent of the Livermore School District, Kelly Bowers, put out the below messages to the Livermore High School’s parents.

‘This morning, as a precaution, and in full communication and cooperation with the Livermore Police Department, we placed our students and staff at Livermore High School in a shelter in place mode, so that the Livermore Police Department could conduct a thorough search in response to a reported firearm on campus. During the emergency protocol situation, the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District worked in tandem with the Livermore Police Department to ensure student and staff safety. All students and staff were safe. All students and staff fully cooperated. Once the Livermore Police confirmed that the report of a weapon on campus was not credible, the
shelter in place order was lifted and school was back in session. We apologize for any anxiety caused by our initial phone call alert, however we always err on the side of extreme caution in following our safety protocols and in keeping our community informed.

We commend the Livermore Police Department for their vigilant response and the LHS administration, staff and students for calmly adhering to our safety procedures to ensure everyone’s well-being. We are extremely fortunate to have such a positive working relationship with our local police department to avert any potential crisis situation.

As a result of the information provided by the citizen, the Livermore Police Department and Livermore High School staff was able to ensure the safety of the students.

As a reminder, the Livermore Police Department highly encourages that if any citizen witnesses any suspicious activity to call and report it immediately.”

Posted on Friday, September 13th, 2013
Under: Education, Livermore | No Comments »