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The Almighty Buck Education Government United States Politics

$500K NSF Grant Boosted Girls' CS Participation At Obama Daughters' $37K/Yr HS 187

theodp writes: On Friday, a paper entitled Creative Computation in High School will be presented at SIGCSE '16. "In this paper," explain the paper's authors, "we describe the success of bringing Creative Computation via Processing into two very different high schools...providing a catalyst for significant increases in total enrollment as well as female participation in high school computer science." One of the two schools that participated in the National Science Foundation-supported project — see NSF awards 1323305 & 1323463 for Creative Computation in the Context of Art and Visual Media — was Sidwell Friends School, which a 2013 SMU news release on the three-year, $500K NSF grant noted was best known as the school attended by President Obama's daughters. Interestingly, in a late-2014 interview, the President lamented that his daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he'd like, adding that "part of what's happening is that we are not helping schools and teachers teach it in an interesting way." Hey, nothing that a $4B 'Computer Science For All' K-12 Program can't fix, right?
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$500K NSF Grant Boosted Girls' CS Participation At Obama Daughters' $37K/Yr HS

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  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:46PM (#51630707) Journal

    Why do they call it that?

    • Software development is not "computer programming"- Why do they call it that?
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:52PM (#51630771) Homepage
    It may be convenient and tempting to blame Obama for this, but its actually something he benefits from thats existed for more than a hundred years. Namely, how wealth learns and lives as opposed to the rest of us.

    While most of us go to public school, eat school lunches and attend public universities when and if possible, the cloistered elite do not. An entire parallel yet grossly superior system of education exists for millionaires and billionaires, and everything from its fundamentals to its lunchtime is radically different. While we are playing gym and learning typing in highschool, the children of wealth learn elocution, policy, and various other traits that help them to accept their future roles as C level management, elite constitutional law attorneys, and even members of world banking organizations. If obamas children are learning programming, its merely as a jovial introduction into the world of directing, managing, or guiding long-term and broad stroke efforts in the field. They will not themselves become a "programmer."

    that having been said, the children of the elite will always benefit disproportionately from government grants alongside their already generous foundation and nonprofit donations. they have overwhelming resources to secure and exploit them that public, and many private institutions, do not.
    • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:58PM (#51630819) Journal

      The children of elites tend to have parents who care about scholastics, which is far and away the most accurate predictor of scholastic success, not school quality, dollars per pupil, class size, teacher quality, or other irrelevancies Democrats and Republicans argue about.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by nimbius ( 983462 )
        Not necessarily. Paris Hilton is a premier example of a parent who clearly did not care about scholastics. Conrad Hilton has less sired and more excreted a petulent child incapable of even simple arithmetic. Many of the children of saudi elites and royalty are themselves incapable of anything more than conspicuous consumption. Muhammad bin Nayef, of the house of Saud, is nearly illiterate.
        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:24PM (#51631033)

          Paris Hilton earns millions annually through TV, product endorsements, and her own brands. She has a net worth of over $100 million. Less than $5M of that came from her inheritance. She manages and invests her money well. I don't think she is as dumb as you think she is.

          • Less than $5M of that came from her inheritance

            Her biggest inheritance was the family name, and she exploited that to get the earnings you talk about. Her only talent is being famous.

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            Does she actively manage all that money, or does she have some trusted insider do it for her?

            I could see where she could possibly have some insight into a slice of the decisions that end up making her money -- she's probably as good an arbiter of what's fashionable in her circle as anyone.

          • Paris Hilton earns millions annually through TV, product endorsements, and her own brands. She has a net worth of over $100 million. Less than $5M of that came from her inheritance.

            Presuming that is true then good for her doing so well prostituting herself. I find it amazing that anyone gives a damn about anything she is involved in but good for her for making something of her opportunities.

            She manages and invests her money well.

            No, she has people that manage her money well for her. I guaran-damn-tee you she isn't managing her money herself. She as agents, investment advisers, family connections, etc.

            I don't think she is as dumb as you think she is.

            I don't think she is some brilliant business woman either. She comes from a family with money. Along with that tends to

          • by Falos ( 2905315 )
            >She has a net worth of over $100 million.
            >I don't think she is as dumb as you think she is.

            I can't say much because I'm not an expert on this subject: It's 2016 and I still don't know what a Kardashian is.
            • by Bigbutt ( 65939 )

              Babylon 5?

              [John]

            • Kardashian

              Kardashian are a humanoid race, with light grey skin. Their faces have small ridges on their sides, which converge to a characteristic crest shape on their foreheads, with female Kardashian sporting a blue or blue-green coloration to their crest. This crest has led to the derogatory nickname "spoonheads" used by other races.

              Not sure on the spelling though.

            • by Falos ( 2905315 )
              Thank you for your informative efforts, sister posts. Perhaps together we can figure out why the surface dwellers worship the Kardashian. Their religious texts don't indicate any sort of grand events, legends, or accomplishments, biblical or otherwise, that would prompt the exhaustive rituals and culture.

              But the Kardashian phenomenon (not sure if sacred location, diety, or artifact) has a net worth of over 9000, so _clearly_ there must be something of value for me to find.
      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:08PM (#51630911)

        The children of elites tend to have parents who care about scholastics, which is far and away the most accurate predictor of scholastic success

        No. This is wrong. The most accurate predictors of scholastic success are 1) IQ of the child's biological parents, and 2) Household income. Having "parents that care" makes no measureable difference once you compensate for IQ and income. What the parents do matters far less than who the parents are.

        • The most accurate predictors of scholastic success are 1) IQ of the child's biological parents, and 2) Household income.

          Is that also true if you correct household income for IQ of the parents/caretakers ?

        • Citation required. To go stereotypical, Asians consistently outperform [wordpress.com] other groups having similar (low) incomes. The common cultures associated with each minority group however, have very different priorities regarding the value of education.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          No, that's wrong. In the UK there was a big push to encourage parents to read to their children, and then to start teaching them to read so that by the time they started school at age 4 they could at least recognize some letters. It had a significant effect on academic outcomes and has been integrated into many pre-school activities.

          On the other end of the scale, it's been shown that children starting school unable to speak English (e.g. because their parents speak something else) is a major disadvantage an

    • An entire parallel yet grossly superior system of education exists for millionaires and billionaires

      And yet, that grossly superior system of education only managed to produce crap politicians. Half of them even deny basic science such as evolution and greenhouse effect of CO2.

      • An entire parallel yet grossly superior system of education exists for millionaires and billionaires

        And yet, that grossly superior system of education only managed to produce crap politicians. Half of them even deny basic science such as evolution and greenhouse effect of CO2.

        Yet they got elected. Which means they succeeded at their chosen profession. Seems their education prepared them just fine.

        • Seems their education prepared them just fine.

          Or, more likely, their education had little to do with it.

      • Half of them even deny basic science such as evolution and greenhouse effect of CO2.

        That is because the focus groups tell them this is what they need to do to win the election. Politicians at the national level are very smart people. They would not get to that level if they were not. Bill Clinton has an IQ of 160, but he talked like a hick because he knew people would not vote for a pointy headed intellectual.

        • They would not get to that level if they were not.

          They only have to outsmart the other candidate, not actual people with brains.

    • If you bothered to do any research you'd find that this school, follows the Harvard, MIT, etc. model wherein tuition is exceedingly high, but financial aid is made available on a need basis. According to the school [sidwell.edu] the average recipient is awarded $25,708. While still a bit steep, that places tuition within reach of those not in the %1 club, and helps ensure only academically motivated parents apply to send their kids there.

      Bashing successful people might seem like a fun, cathartic way to deal with your o

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Should not politicians responsible for the state of public schools be required by law to force their children to attend those schools. Consider this, they judge the schools they manage not good enough for their children but for the majority of the electorate, suck it up, those schools are as shitty as they can get away with. If public schools are good enough for the children of politicians, then those politicians are not good enough for the parents of children in public schools!!!

  • interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:54PM (#51630779)

    part of what's happening is that we are not helping schools and teachers teach it in an interesting way.

    It's a feature, not a bug. Coding isn't interesting unless you have a mind for it. And if you have a mind for it, you don't need a creative teacher and colorful projects to make it interesting for you.

    • Re:interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:31PM (#51631101)

      That's ridiculous. Many, many people come to things later in life that they were initially turned off of by truly horrid teachers.

      When I was in elementary I *HATED* maths and science because the way my teachers taught it was aggressively boring. It was all rote memorization of formulae and processes, and there was zero joy or excitement - they taught it like people who didn't actually know the material and were just reading from a teacher's guide, because that's exactly what they were.

      We moved and I went to a better school, and I was STUNNED at how interesting the teachers were able to make subjects I previously hated and dreaded.

      Flash forward to now and I've had a long career as both an engineer and a research scientist. Given my successful career, I'd say I definitely have a mind for it, which I might never have come to realize if I'd had to continue staying with shitty teachers who seemed to go out of their way to make it boring.

      And I know a LOT of people who have had similar experiences. Dismissing a huge swath of people as somehow unworthy or incapable simply because they don't immediately become fascinated by a subject is absurd. Funny enough though, it's a pretty common attitude by people in tech.

      • Dismissing a huge swath of people as somehow unworthy or incapable simply because they don't immediately become fascinated by a subject is absurd.

        No doubt cases like yours happen, but very doubtful we're talking about a huge swath. And in the context of national budget allocations, it's best to focus on the big groups, and not worry too much about the few that fall through the cracks. Has nothing to do with emotional terms such as "unworthy". It's just basic statistics.

    • How many people interested in cooking, baking, or wood shop know what coding can do for them?

      I have yet to see a high school or voctech program that teaches practical uses to coding.

      To a controls engineer the modern home kitchen is an embarrassment of control systems. Steam engine centrifugal governors had better control than an over bought in 2016. It has zero disturbance rejection (opening the oven door). And has one setting. I've got all the items and am going to make my own ramp/soak controller so that

      • I should have a counter top device that can measure out with perfect accuracy any liquid.

        Great, but the challenges of making a design that works with any kind of liquid without cross contamination, or bacterial growth inside the device have nothing to do with basic coding skills.

        it is like hearing that most people don't need to learn to type

        Typing is an easy and useful skill that nearly everybody can learn. For a better analogy, compare coding to playing the piano. I have absolutely no talent for music, and all my school music lessons have been a total waste of time. Concert pianists aren't discovered through basic music lessons at school.

      • When I was very young, my older brother would have friends over and they would play D&D. Being the pesky kid sister, I wanted to play with them, and my folks insisted they let me play. So I made a character (a very time consuming process) and triumphantly joined their game and... my character was immediately killed by a dragon swooping down from the sky who then flew off, job done.

        So I took a couple of hours to make another character and... killed by a random passing ogre. My brother and his friends wer

        • For the want of mod points.

          I was always the kid that never stopped asking 'why', 'because' was never a valid excuse (and still isn't). Teachers that showed me how ___ could be used to do what I wanted to do were far more effective than telling me what ____ could do for me.

          If you ask a classroom of 30 students what they want to do you're going to get 30 different answers. They key to teaching them advanced concepts it telling them how advanced concepts can help them achieve those goals.

          You like photography?

          • With kids especially, since they tend to developmentally lack certain structures that are essential to abstract thinking. You have to be practical because nothing else will work (except in extremely rare cases).

            After D&D, we got a modem and I totally lost my mind when I realized that there were other human beings out there who also had computers and wanted to talk, so I started using a really simple chat program on The Source to bug people who were on line (with appropriate parental supervision).

            Then so

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:54PM (#51630785)
    Stop asking yourself how you can stop them from getting it and how we can get it for everybody else. All crap like this story does is get people yelling about govt waste. And all that happens when you try to cut it is your education budget for your kid's school gets cut.
    • Stop asking yourself how you can stop them from getting it and how we can get it for everybody else. All crap like this story does is get people yelling about govt waste. And all that happens when you try to cut it is your education budget for your kid's school gets cut.

      The education budget for our kids schools is being cut anyway and if we don't complain about mis-allocation of taxpayer money like this blatant misuse of public funds then nothing will change.

      Maybe nothing will change anyway but if we don't complain it is certain not to.

      I mean really - half a million dollars of taxpayer money going to a private school for the rich?

      It's disgusting.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Rational thought doesn't come into this, it's just anger, jealousy and a vague feeling of unfairness. It's either rich people looking after their own, or racists only helping black kids, or sexists only helping girls... The only way people can feel like victims is if they assume everyone else is getting a hand up except for them.

  • Trends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:59PM (#51630823) Journal
    I'm not sure the trend of 'making programming a game' is the best way to go about it....it works fine at the introductory levels, but how do you move beyond drag-and-drop programming blocks and start using text all the time? Are you going learn about NP-complete with pictures? I think at some point, the students need to develop a passion for solving puzzles, otherwise they will not have the desire to keep going.......

    In any case, here is the curriculum they used:

    1) programming (bouncing ball, kindergarten picture)
    2) functions, variables, basic loops, 2D arrays (image processing)
    3) fundamentals, control structures (Andy Wharhol, Green Screen)
    4) algorithm development (finding the robots ball)
    **At this point, the students are given a four-week introduction to Python** 5) OOP: classes, polymorphism, animation (bouncing ball, sea creature)
    6) OOP and design (space invaders)
    7) Abstraction Strings (data visualization)
    8) OOP: interfaces (swimmable object, paint)
    9) OOP: inheritance (sea creature inheritance)
    10) Recursion (hanoi tower)
    11) algorithm development, OOP: encapsulation (robot maze)

    Personally I would rather see less emphasis on OOP, and more emphasis on "the proving mindset" (the proving mindset being, when you write code, try to think of everything that can go wrong, every possibility). It's kind of hard to understand when OOP is a good thing without writing bad code first.....
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Plus, OOP is not the right solution for some parts of systems. The "OO everywhere" mentality of the last decade is mostly dead. We've learned, yet again, "use the right tool for the job".

      The FP (functional) fans are making the same mistake lately, I believe: "FP everywhere". In part because JavaScript (ironically) has a lousy OOP model such that people stick anonymous functions all over the place. (Oh oh, I didn't mean to start a Paradigm War.)

      For example, JS's "setTimout" should be part of a "timer" class

      • Plus, OOP is not the right solution for some parts of systems.

        Yeah, teaching OOP at that level is more of indoctrination, because they don't have the tools they need to understand when it is a good choice, and when it isn't.

    • You're making the assumption that people need to learn to do all of that.

      Most people would be good knowing 1-3 and spending 4-11 learning how to apply it to solve their problems. Someone interested in baking doesn't need to know everything else, they need to learn how coding can help solve their baking problems.

      The problem is that it's not being taught with practical applications to most people.

      • More Americans need to learn to think, that's for sure. Our current candidate crop proves that.
        And maybe programming will help with that.
  • by OffTheLip ( 636691 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:03PM (#51630865)

    "President lamented that his daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he'd like"

    It's that way for many things. I never took to writing a great novel either although I took English, writing and literature most of my school years.

    • I took PE classes, and I'm still waiting for my first Olympic medal.
    • "President lamented that his daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he'd like"

      It's that way for many things. I never took to writing a great novel either although I took English, writing and literature most of my school years.

      It's also complete bullshit. As if the President wants his daughters to be programmers. What a crock.

      It's an attempted justification for an abuse of taxpayer money.

  • "CS not interesting" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:05PM (#51630887)

    "part of what's happening is that we are not helping schools and teachers teach it in an interesting way"

    It has nothing to do with the teaching technique. You can't force people to become interested in computer science and programming. If you aren't the type of person who is naturally drawn towards this particular type of problem solving, you'll quickly be discouraged by the constant setbacks and frustration that accompany all programming endeavors. Very few people have the natural mathematical talent and abstract thinking abilities necessary to enjoy this work and thus overcome the first 5-10 years of pain and eventually become good.

  • and down the GOP road soon HS will come to loans. Want to be stuck with 80-100K be for college and to get a good job you need to get the masters or phd for 150-300K more?

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:24PM (#51631029)

    They would rather throw money at the daughters of the upper end of the 1% than money at the sons of the bottom 50%. Because equality. Because a girl born to a family that can afford $37k/year/kid for K12 tuition is "oppressed" by the "patriarchy" that includes a poor white kid who lives in Appalachia with a dad on Social Security Disability and a mom works as a waitress at a low end restaurant and a minority boy living in a violent ghetto with no father in his life. No siree, those boys have it easy because their penises give them preferential access, should the heavens open up and give them access to an accredited college at some point in their lives. Fight for equality, fight for the daughters of the privileged!

  • by K. S. Van Horn ( 1355653 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:26PM (#51631057) Homepage

    "part of what's happening is that we are not helping schools and teachers teach it in an interesting way."

    If someone needs to convince you that CS is interesting, then maybe CS is not for you. I've never known a really good programmer who got into the field because someone coddled and cajoled them into it. On the contrary, they seek out every opportunity they can find to learn more on their own initiative.

    • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

      Not to mention that if they make it their career, they better be able to get enjoyment out of it on their own or they're not going to last long in the workforce. Offices don't generally come with cheerleaders.

    • You're thinking of the problem backwards.

      You don't need to teach kids CS to get them into CS. You need to teach them programming and give them practical applications to how they can use it to do what they are interested in

      Someone interested in baking doesn't need to know how to make a good bubble sort. They should be able to make a basic PID controller and a ramp-soak controller. Brand new oven 'controls' are an embarrassment to the field of controls. But I would bet that no one sat down someone interested

  • For those *not* from the DC area --

    Sidwell Friends is the school where the kids of many politicians end up going. Clinton's kid went there, as did Nixon's and Teddy Roosevelt's.

    For those congress people that bring their families to DC, many of their kids go there, too. Along with ambassadors' kids, VP's kids, judge's kids, various CEO's kids, etc.

    It'd actually be more surprising if a president who had grade school kids *didn't* sent their kids to Sidwell Friends.

  • Why emphasize just coding when programming jobs may shrink? [i-programmer.info]

    While I agree that programming is decent entry-level job into other IT fields, I'm not sure the emphasis of IT teaching should be on coding. Structural factoring (basic normalization, redundancy identification), set theory, logic, general architecture (clients, servers, databases, networks, security) and so forth should also be part of such courses.

    Even if you never code on the job, understanding the relationships between data elements and system pa

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:53PM (#51631331)
    Apparently the future CEOs and executives of companies plan to do all the programming themselves? It is just a minor thing to do on the side? Or perhaps the CEOs will only need to know enough to determine which robot to use.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @06:45PM (#51632871)

    In keeping with Quaker tenets, Sidwell Friends School seeks a student body that represents varied economic backgrounds. In 2015-2016, 23% of our students will receive approximately $6,700,000 of financial aid support with an average aid award of $25,708, which covers two-thirds of the average tuition cost.

    Financial Aid [sidwell.edu]

    All students must acquire at least 20 credits before graduating. Students are required to take four years of English, three years of mathematics, three years of history, two years of one foreign language, two years of science, and two years of art. In addition to this, all freshmen must take a full year Freshman Studies course. Sidwell is a member school of School Year Abroad.

    Notable alumni

    Ann Brashares, author, "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants"
    Margaret Edison, playwright, Pulitzer Prize for Drama
    Walter Gilbert, Nobel Prize chemist
    Hannah Gray, later President of the University of Chicago
    Davis Guggenheim, director, "An Inconvenient Truth"
    Campbell McGrath, poet, MacArthur Foundation "Genius" award winner
    Bill Nye, "Science Guy"
    Robert Watson, computer science and network security, FreeBSD

    Sidwell Friends School/A? [wikipedia.org]

  • Saying Sidwell Friends is best known because President Obama's kids go there is something like saying that the White House is best known because JFK lived there. The school has been regarded as one of the premier schools in the DC area for over a century; Theodore Roosevelt's son Archibald, Richard Nixon's daughter Tricia, Bill Clinton's daughter Chelsea Clinton, and Vice President Al Gore's son, Albert Gore III, all graduated from Sidwell Friends.

"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much nearer the truth. -- Alfred North Whitehead

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