CS4Philly celebrated the kickoff event for Philadelphia’s inaugural CS4Philly Week, December 3-6, in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia and Presenting Sponsor Comcast NBCUniversal earlier this week.
CS4Philly Week 2018 is Philadelphia’s very first local celebration of National Computer Science Education Week, which takes place across the country each year during the first week of December.
“Computer science education gives our students the skills and tools they need as our city’s future leaders and creators in the ever-evolving digital world,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “The City of Philadelphia is proud to support CS4Philly Week 2018 as a celebration of National Computer Science Education Week. We are also proud to partner with CS4Philly as a citywide initiative to provide equity and access to high quality computer science education and digital citizenship.”
The signature event of CS4Philly Week 2018 was the Student CS Experience, which took place on Monday, December 3 at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts. The CS Experience offered a full day of programs for Philadelphia high school students to engage in hands-on computer science learning. Students experienced a variety of computational thinking learning activities in teams with guidance from their teacher chaperones, local STEM educators, and tech professionals including mentors from Comcast NBCUniversal.
At Monday's signature event, more than 100 Philadelphia high school students took part in interactive CS exercises, two of which were led by College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) computer science faculty members.
One event, called "Post-It Pandemonium," was led by Professor Jeffrey Popyack, PhD, and Teaching Professor Bill Mongan, PhD. During the exercise, students collectively reconstructed a GIF image using sticky-notes in place of screen pixels. The image was subdivided into individual sections, each of which contained data for part of the GIF image. The actual image was not known to the students beforehand, but was revealed as they assembled their subsections and placed them on the grid. This illustrated how pictures are represented on computer screens, and also demonstrated how data compression allows images to take up less space on a hard drive, allowing them to be transmitted more quickly over a network.
Assistant Teaching Professor Tammy Pirmann, PhD, also led a group of students in an activity about computer networking called "Pizza Packets." Students took on the roles of client computers, routers and website hosts to understand how our digital messages get broken into packets, addressed and sent over a network. Each student had a set of instructions to help them play their role, actively observing how the data packets moved across the network. Students then participated in a brainstorming session on why this arrangement makes networks reliable and fault tolerant.
Additional sessions throughout the week in different venues across the city are designed to inspire learning, awareness, and advocacy among stakeholders, including civic, private, and public leaders in K-‐12 education, higher education, industry, community, and parents. CS4Philly Week 2018 is also being supported by the following event sponsors: Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, LRNG Philly, Drexel ExCITe Center, Citizens Bank, SAXBYS, Temple University Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University City Science Center, and String Theory Schools.
For a complete listing of CS4Philly Week 2018 sponsors and partners, and to view a schedule and register for CS4Philly Week events, please visit www.cs4philly.org/cs4philly-week-2018.