TJ Is Computer Science Education Leader
Two TJ Students and a Teacher Win Google Trailblazer Awards
TJ senior Ankit Goyal, junior Maddie Zug, and Computer Science (CS) teacher Ria Galanos received Google Trailblazer awards this past fall. Google’s Trailblazer programs provide one year of training, mentorship, and resources to support high school students and teachers as they launch their own outreach programs to expand access to computer science education.
Maddie’s outreach idea is a social media website where students can input information about themselves and get matched with mentors who share their interests. For example, a student who enjoys watching movies could get matched up with a computer scientist who animates films for a living.
Ankit has teamed up with four other Trailblazers who together plan to send teachers “Club in a Box” kits containing a comprehensive lesson plan and activity materials that make it easier for them to start CS clubs at their schools. Ankit hopes that both parents and students will be so inspired by CS and the educational and career opportunities it presents that they will petition local school districts to add CS to the list of required classes.
TJ ’12 Alum Encourages Women to Choose Computer Science
At the request of junior Maddie Zug and teacher Ria Galanos (see Trailblazer), Helen Hastings, TJ ’12, a former SGA President now majoring in CS at Stanford, returned to speak during TJ’s celebration of CS Education week, a nationwide initiative. She discussed the obstacles faced by women who consider entering the CS field and how to work towards eradicating them, a topic she has been interested in ever since her junior year at TJ when she was the only female in her Parallel Computing II class.
Helen currently serves as Director of Finance for she++, a Stanford-based organization devoted to expanding access to computer science education for females. In addition to her role managing finances and corporate sponsorships, she organized the logistics for the organization’s second annual conference and helped launch the group’s documentary, which has been screened nearly 80,000 times in the US and abroad, including during her TJ talk.
This year the group has expanded its focus from the college to the high school level, hosting a fellowship for high school students, starting a mentorship program, and recently launching the she++ Video Library, which features members of the tech industry discussing the wide variety of interesting tasks and professions that require programming skills. “I’ve been told I was lucky that my high school offered AP CS, not to mention the numerous other computer science classes that were available to me,” Helen said. “I’ve heard many students, especially women, say that they enjoyed their college introductory CS classes but won’t continue because it’s ‘too late’ to start CS in college. We have some pretty fantastic opportunities at TJ with regard to computer science, and everyone should be encouraged to take advantage of them.”