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May 13, 2004

Conference to get female students thinking about computer studies
Students from seven area high schools will participate in a one-day, hands-on workshop at Loyalist College on Friday, May 14th. Approximately 40 Grade 9 and 10 female students who demonstrate an aptitude for problem-solving and using technology will see the opportunities that are available in computer science, a path that secondary school females traditionally do no consider.

The workshops, created and organized by Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) teachers, feature a variety of hands-on activities in problem-solving with a computer as the tool. Examples of the activities include:
• Creating a code to be able to send messages using only white and black cards
• An exposure to problem-solving models and programming basics
• Creating and using a computer simulation to determine probability of an event
• Simulating upgrading computers by taking one apart and re-assembling it

“Enrollment in Computer Science courses is still heavily male-dominated. It is hoped that by showing girls what Computer Science is all about through some hands-on activities, they may consider studies in those areas. The idea is to debunk the stereotype of the programmer sitting at a computer for hours on end. We want these students to learn that they can acquire transferable skills by taking Computer Science courses,” remarks Jeff Richardson, Curriculum Coordinator.

The conference will take place at Loyalist College which offers Computer Programmer/Analyst and Computer Engineering Technician/Technology programs, among others, that could be possible destinations for students who decide to pursue an education in computer science.

“This is another example of the partnership that is developing between our Board and Loyalist College,” adds Richardson. “When secondary students visit their local college to see the facilities first-hand, it benefits them, the Board and the college. It also has off-shoot benefits by helping students begin to see the types of jobs that may be available locally down the road.”

Several women who work in the information technology field in local organizations will speak to the students about career opportunities. In this way, participants can see the complete picture and how secondary and post-secondary education can lead to a rewarding and exciting career in information technology.

The secondary curriculum has two main streams of Computer Science offered as part of the Technology Curriculum: 1) Programming; and 2) Engineering. Both streams have courses running from Grade 10 through 12. All HPEDSB schools offer the programming stream, which teaches students programming skills in languages such as Turing, Visual Basic, and Java. Many schools offer the Engineering stream as well which delves more into the hardware and networking aspect of Computer Science.

Media representatives are invited to attend the event.

For more information, contact:
• Jeff Richardson, Curriculum Coordinator, (613) 966-1170, ext.2293, or 1 800 267-4350, ext. 2293