Hillsboro joined millions of students on Dec. 9 to participate in an Hour of Code presented by code.org. Over 350 Hillsboro fourth and fifth graders participated in this national event to help promote the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.
The event was conducted by volunteers from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a global leader in IT services, digital and business solutions with offices in Milford. This activity is part of TCS’ overall focus on STEM education at elementary, middle and high school levels.
Many schools like Hillsboro across the state of Ohio are seeing a major push from the industry to grow the awareness of STEM-related education at younger ages. To put the skills gap in perspective for Ohio, consider some of these statistics from code.org:
• Currently, Ohio has 15,196 open computing jobs while only 1,109 computer science majors graduated last year.
• Only 14 percent of schools with AP programs offered an AP computer science program.
Hillsboro City Schools have seen the industry trends around IT and are taking a proactive approach to invest in technology. The students are given the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in STEM from grades K-12. The district offers weekly technology classes across all grade levels and introduces robotics and computer science classes through programs like Project Lead the Way, beginning in middle school. They are also investing in the infrastructure to support STEM education. With over 1,800 Chromebooks distributed across the district and multiple computer labs spread between the three schools, Hillsboro has laid the foundation for future STEM success. The school district recently tripled the network bandwidth to accommodate access in any of the buildings.
According to Brian Purvis, IT program manager with TCS in Milford, “Hillsboro’s ability to put 200-plus Chromebooks into a single room, connect to WIFI and participate in an Hour of Code without any technical glitches is amazing. Of 30-plus schools in the greater Cincinnati region that I work with and the seven-plus years running goIT camps, this is a first.”
Purvis also emphasized the importance of starting at a young age. According to Code.org, female students that are exposed to AP computer science are 10 times more likely to major in computer science in college.
TCS participates in multiple programs including Hour of Code, Million Women Mentors, STEMconnector, and TCS goIT Student Technology program. The TCS goIT program started in Milford in 2009 as a community outreach program to expose high school students to STEM related opportunities, and to “go” in to “information technology” (goIT) related careers. The program started as a three-day summer camp hosted in the TCS office in Milford with only two schools and has now grown into 50-plus camps across 30-plus states involving thousands of students and hundreds of schools. Hillsboro has been sending students to the summer camp in Milford since 2011. In total, over 100 students from Hillsboro have attended the summer camp.
Submitted by Jacob Zink, Hillsboro Primary School principal.