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Number of doctorates awarded by US institutions in 2017 declined slightly

News From NSF - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 14:00

U.S. institutions awarded 54,664 research doctorate degrees in 2017, a slight decline from the number awarded in 2016, according to the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), an annual census of research degree recipients that provides data for the Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities report.

The report, published by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation, ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=297405&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

After the hurricane: Maria’s far-reaching effects on Puerto Rico’s watersheds and forests

News From NSF - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 11:00

Find related stories on NSF's Critical Zone Observatories Sites. Find related stories on NSF's Long-Term Ecological Research Sites.

With fierce winds and flooding rains, hurricanes can be disasters for people -- and for ecosystems. These devastating storms have major effects on tropical forests, ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=297288&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Computational thinking abstracts too far from the computer: We should teach CS with inquiry

ComputingEd - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 07:00

Judy Robertson has a blog post that I really enjoyed: What Children Want to Know About Computers. She argues that computational thinking has abstracted too far away from what students really want to know about, the machine.

Computational thinking has been a hugely successful idea and is now taught at school in many countries across the world. Although I welcome the positioning of computer science as a respectable, influential intellectual discipline, in my view computational thinking has abstracted us too far away from the heart of computation – the machine. The world would be a tedious place if we had to do all our computational thinking ourselves; that’s why we invented computers in the first place. Yet, the new school curricula across the world have lost focus on hardware and how code executes on it.

Her post includes pictures drawn by children about what they think is going on inside of the computer.  They’re interested in these things!  We should teach them about it.  One of the strongest findings in modern science education is that inquiry works. Students learn science well if it’s based in the things that they want to know. Judy argues that kids want to know about the computer and how code executes on the computer. We shouldn’t be abstracting away from that. We should be teaching what the kids most want to learn.

To be clear, I am not criticizing the children, who were curious, interested and made perfectly reasonable inferences based on the facts they picked up in their everyday lives. But I think that computer science educators can do better here. Our discipline is built upon the remarkable fact that we can write instructions in a representation which makes sense to humans and then automatically translate them into an equivalent representation which can be followed by a machine dumbly switching electrical pulses on and off. Children are not going to be able to figure that out for themselves by dissecting old computers or by making the Scratch cat dance. We need to get better at explicitly explaining this in interesting ways.

Maybe there’s more than one kind of Computational Thinking, but that makes research difficult

ComputingEd - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 07:00

Shuchi Grover has a nice post in Blog@CACM where she suggests that there is more than one kind of Computational Thinking, which tries to resolve some of the concerns about the term (some of which I discussed here):

It’s also clear to me that in order to help make better sense of CT, we must acknowledge and distinguish two views of CT for K-12 education that are defined and operationalized based on the context for teaching/learning/application. One is a view of CT as a thinking skill for CS classrooms, that includes programming and other CS practices with the goal of highlighting authentic disciplinary practices and higher-order thinking skills used in computer science. The other is CT as a thinking skill/problem-solving approach in non-CS settings—this is often about using programming to automate abstractions of phenomena in other domains or work with data with the goal of better understanding phenomena (including making predictions and understanding potential consequences of actions), innovating with computational representations, designing solutions that leverage computational power/tools, and engaging in sense making around data.

She says that their are two “views” of CT, but she does distinguish Wing’s original definition which most people don’t buy. So, it seems like there are three.  (Kudos to Shuchi for pointing out that Seymour Papert actually uses the phrase “computational thinking” in Chapter 8 of Mindstorms — so cool!)

But I’m still wondering: Why do we have to call all of these things “computational thinking”?  I get that there’s a lot of energy around the term, but it’s an overloaded term.  Think about it from the perspective of any other science.  If you discovered that a species of animal or bacteria you were studying was actually two species, you’d name them differently.  In the 19th century, physicists thought that light traveled through a “luminiferous aether,” but now, nobody uses that term because we realized that such a thing didn’t exist. Maybe we as scientists should invent some new and more accurate terms instead of overloaded and confusing “computational thinking”?  If we’re using “computational thinking” because it has marketing cachet with teachers and principals (even if the term isn’t useful to researchers), that makes it hard to have a science around computing education.  Do we write about CT Type-1 vs CT Type-2?

Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2017

News From NSF - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 13:32

Available Formats:
HTML: https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf19301/?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: nsf19301


This is an NSF Publications item.

Expeditions in Computing: 10 years transforming science and society

News From NSF - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 13:00

The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Expeditions in Computing (Expeditions) program is recognizing a decade of investments in ambitious computing research. That research has included big data, computational neuroscience, quantum computing, computer vision and robotics. During the two-day principal investigator meeting, media are invited to join a morning session (only) on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, from 7:30 a.m. to 11:45 ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=297412&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

News From NSF - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 06:00

Scientists and engineers on a deep-sea expedition aboard the research vessel Atlantis in the East Pacific Ocean will be broadcasting live to the American Geophysical Union fall meeting exhibit booth from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 11, Wednesday, Dec. 12, and Thursday, Dec. 13.

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the expedition's scientists and engineers will talk about their research, including their use of submersibles, and answer questions from the ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=297386&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

MicroBlocks Joins Conservancy #CSEdWeek

ComputingEd - Wed, 12/05/2018 - 07:00

This is great news for fans of GP and John Maloney’s many cool projects. MicroBlocks is a form of GP. This means that GP can be funded through contributions to the Conservancy.

We’re proud to announce that we’re bringing MicroBlocks into the Conservancy as our newest member project. MicroBlocks provides a quick way for new programmers to jump right in using “blocks” to make toys or tools. People have been proclaiming that IoT is the future for almost a decade, so we’re very pleased to be able to support a human-friendly project that makes it really easy to get started building embedded stuff. Curious? Check out a few of the neat things people have already built with MicroBlocks.

MicroBlocks is the next in a long line of open projects for beginners or “casual programmers” lead by John Maloney, one of the creators of Squeak (also a Conservancy project!) and a longtime Scratch contributor. MicroBlocks is a new programming language that runs right inside microcontroller boards such as the micro:bit, the NodeMCU and many Arduino boards. The versatility and interactivity of MicroBlocks helps users build their own custom tools for everything from wearables to model rockets or custom measuring devices and funky synthesizers.

Source: MicroBlocks Joins Conservancy

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