Computer science education of underserved populations and the efficacy of one-day STEM events
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In the U.S., students seeking Computer Science (CS) as an undergraduate major increased by 12% from 2006 to 2012 and then another 51% from 2011 to 2017. Despite this wide pursuit, there is a belief that not enough citizens are being trained to fulfill these positions. Given the opportunity to insert more Americans into this workforce, it should be considered that white males have been the major demographic that have held these secure and high-paying jobs. Georgia’s public school system is ranked 34th in the country. In Atlanta, 84% of students are racial/ethnic minorities and 77% are economically disadvantaged. Of the public schools in Atlanta, the average high school graduation rate is 71.1% and the statewide average is 79.4%. Similarly, the average college enrollment rate is 59% and the state average is 64%. This means that only one third of APS students will attend college. HackGT, a CS education and STEM outreach organization, hosts a learn-a-thon for local Atlanta high school students to participate in one-on-one CS learning and mentorship with Georgia Tech CS majors, local professionals, and large technology companies. There has been no official data collection or analyses of the event and its impact has not been validated. Once the restrictions of hosting large in-person events due to the COVID-19 pandemic are no longer in place, the event will resume and two factors will be evaluated. First, further research into how the socioeconomic status and demographic as well as prior perceptions of CS impact future success and involvement in the field. Second, the effectiveness of Catalyst in encouraging underserved high school students to pursue a higher education and career in CS will be gauged and quantified.