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  • Writer's pictureMelissa

KC STEM Alliance Computer Science Teacher Mentor Day

The KC STEM Alliance hosted their first ever Computer Science Day on January 8, 2019.


The morning began with a session on Cybersecurity with Barry Cooper with Fishtech. We learned that with the current state of cybersecurity, employers are having a difficult time finding qualified people to fill open positions. There is currently a 0% cybersecurity unemployment rate and that there are 125 universities in the United States that offer a master's degree in cybersecurity. Trends include lack of available talent, shadow IT (think about times people install software without checking with the technology department), and security as a service (people want to purchase the service rather than monitoring it themselves). For school districts, BYOD policies make it more difficult to secure content. 2.0 cybersecurity trends include server-less multi-cloud security, SDN (Software Defined Networking), and DevOps.

As a business, cybersecurity companies are looking for the following "cyber competencies" in potential employees:

  • Real world financial skills (managing money, taxes, budgeting, credit)

  • Home care, purchasing, maintenance, and repair

  • Marriage and family skills

  • Survival and coping skills

General business competencies

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Customer service skills

  • Interviewing and resume skills

  • Communication skills

  • Time management skills

  • Management and leading people (cast a vision, influence people to follow it, carry on)

Technology skills

  • A+ certification (CompTIA) understanding hardware and how you put it together

  • Networking 101 (CCNA or similar) Do you know how layer 3 networks work?

  • Sec+ certification (CompTIA) security certification (at minimum)

  • Python / Javascript (are in demand)

Cyberlearning resources

Smart Cities

Aaron Deacon from KC Digital Divide spoke about the steps Kansas City, Missouri, has taken as a Smart City. The initiative includes the streetcar line, free public wifi backbone, and a plan to extend the Prospect MAX line, part of the DoT Smart City Challenge. They have installed 13 smart kiosks (hyper-local way-finding, event information, and nearby businesses information), smart parking and traffic signals, sensor- and video-equipped streetlights by Sensity (for parking, snowfall, infrared, and monitoring people), opt-in data collection from visitor smartphones, and open data APIs and SDKs. There is public access to the smart city data so teachers can use this with students, as we want them to data-literate and code-literate.

Characteristics of a digital city

  • Connectivity

  • Sensors/IoT

  • Real-time cop[ute/analytics

  • Plugged-in people

  • Data/algorithm driven

  • Lots of screens/digital interfaces

  • Dynamic economic environment

  • Rapidly changing symmetry of info (both directions)(

  • Global/local

School implications

  • Education as a vertical for innovation and adaptation

  • Education as a key element of the ecosystem

  • Build adaptive learners

Resources for educators

Insight from Industry Professionals

Two sessions featured industry professionals discussing diversity in computer science and providing a chance for networking. Edgar Palacios, with Latinx Education Collaborative, shared that 25% of incoming kindergartners across the United States are Latinx. It's vital that students see inclusive role models in computer science. We can do this by utilizing photographs and videos showcasing diverse populations and connecting with industry professionals that represent diverse backgrounds.

Shared wisdom from panel members and the networking session

  • When hiring, companies are looking for problem-solving abilities and technical skills (it's not about having the right answer but the potential employee's thought process in solving things)

Students need to learn

  • Test-driven development

  • Understand the ecosystem of why they are developing a system

  • Core concepts of version control

  • The ultimate goal of computer science is computational thinking

  • Make explicit the connection between unplugged activities and how it connects to programming

  • Awareness of the many types of careers that fall into a computer science or computer science related field

  • Ability to estimate how long it takes to complete a task

  • If coding, have students do Peer Reviews where small teams walk through the code and verbalize what it will do and how to fix errors

Featured Computer Science Curriculum Resources

I am a facilitator for the CS Discoveries curriculum in partnership with and Science City at Union Station. offers local workshops for educators for their K-5, 6-10, and 9-12 curriculum. You can find more information on their Professional Learning page. If you have questions about the CS Discoveries curriculum, feel free to reach out!


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