3 students among recipients of White House computer science award

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Grace Clark, a high school student from New Orleans, La., interns with a nonprofit that offers free technology training and coding to young people. Through the organization, she taught officers with the local police department how to write code.

Clark, along with eight other students, educators, researchers and entrepreneurs, were named “Champions of Change for Computer Science Education” Tuesday at the White House for their teaching coding skills to diverse groups and advocating for computer science education. Christina Li, a senior at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Macomb, Mich., and Angelica Willis, an undergraduate at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, N.C., also received the honor.

Senior Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett, Acting Education Secretary John King, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, actress Gillian Jacobs, and co-founder and executive director of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls initiative Meredith Walker gave remarks at the event.

Another recipient of the award was Andreas Stefik, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. He invented a programming language so that blind or visually impaired users can hear a recording from screen readers to write their own code using Quorum.

Quorum was first developed for just the blind and visually impaired, but now it has been expanded to the general public. The inventors used evidence-based approaches when building the code – when they established the programming, they studied human behaviors to see how people intuitively use language.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be honored by the White House for Comp Sci Education!” Stefik wrote on Twitter.

For cities that seek to offer courses in computer science in K-12 schools, Jane Margolis’ research will help. The researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, investigated why women and minority youth are disproportionately represented in computer science education. Based on her study, Margolis and her colleagues created Exploring Computer Science, a high school curriculum for all students.

The White House has previously awarded Champions of Change honors to outstanding individuals and organizations who solve a wide variety of problems, including climate change, LGBT equity and immigration reform.

Reach the reporter at yizhu.wang@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @yizhuevy.

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