Praire Dev Con meets Sturgeon Heights Computer Science

It’s been quite an exciting last few weeks in my Computer Science class, and a few more exciting weeks to come. It all started a little over a month ago when I received an email from someone who said that he wanted to invite me and my students to a professional developer’s conference. The conference was a prairie wide conference for Computer Scientists, professional software developers, and programmers known as prairie dev con. As I read further, he outlined how he was a St. James graduate and was investigating programs at the high schools online and found mine! I was honoured, but curious so I “creeped” his links and found his blog and the post about high school Computer Science here. I was concerned as the post seemed negative at first, but then got very complimentary to my program. After a few weeks, he came in to the school and we met and had a great exchange about the importance of Computer Science education and the tech community here in Winnipeg. He would later come in a few weeks after that to talk to my students and get them excited about the conference. Well, today was the day – 16 of my grade 11 and grade 12 students attended the all day conference and did a great job respectfully representing our school.

Prairie Dev Con 2013

Prairie Dev Con 2013

One of the kids snapped a pic here. The kids found some of the workshop a little over their heads (as did I) but still enjoyed the experience and picked up some interesting information about a variety of topics. I myself was happy to see that some of the basic core concepts I teach are still part of the professional community. On a personal note, it was wonderful to see that twice during the day I had two different professionals who were attending the conference come up to me, and I recognized them as former students of my program (back in the Silver Heights days). This was nice to have former students connecting with current students and letting my current students see the potential options their pursuit of my subject area could take them in. And, speaking of former students, something else really interesting has occurred in the last month. Back in February, I got an email from a former student of my program who was now in third year Computer Science at the U of M and wanted to come by for a visit. I am always glad to see alumni and get together to catch up, so he came by and we started chatting. He mentioned the Computer Science day programming contest at the U of M that he won the year he was in my program and asked if the kids were ready to compete in this year’s contest. I answered yes, and then he made an offer to come in on his spare time and ‘train’ the kids to do well in the contest. I happily accepted his offer and through email correspondence I later posed another conundrum to him. I told him my goal of encouraging girls to pursue their interests in Computer Science (see this previous post on this) and he volunteered to bring a fellow female third year U of M student (who is not even an alumni of Sturgeon Heights) in to specifically train my girl programmers. For the last month or so, since the finished their university exams, these two university Computer Science students have been volunteering their time several times a week, for several hours of the day, to spend time with my Computer Science students and classes helping, training, and offering mentorship to my students. For this, my students and myself are very grateful for this selfless act of giving back and encouraging the pursuit of Computer Science education. So now that the conference is over, I will spend the next few days debriefing with the students  and then continuing to prepare for the upcoming U of M Computer Science day at the end of the month. Stay tuned for an update on this event and the exciting month we have had in my Computer Science program.

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