CAC’s Rachel Décoste Speaks at WeTeach_CS Summit

Austin, TEXAS –  The WeTeach_CS Summit is an annual 3-day event in which educators, advocates, and other Computer Science (CS) champions come together to learn more about how to promote and improve computer science education  for Texas’ K-12 students. Rachel Décoste, Congressional App Challenge Director, spoke about Congress’ coding contest, past winners, and how educators can motivate their students to get involved.

The University of Texas, Austin founded WeTeach_CS  with the purpose of expanding and educating Texas K-12 students of all backgrounds. WeTeach_CS has increased the number of CS courses offered in Texas high schools, worked to increase diversity in CS enrollment, and partnered with teachers to expand CS opportunities for students.

Since WeTeach_CS started in 2015, over 400 Texas educators have been certified to teach computer science. In 2011-12, 21% of Texas high schools offered CS classes. Today, that figure has increased to 38%.

“It is clear that Dr. Carol Fletcher, Deputy Director of the Center for STEM Education at UT Austin’s College of Education, has worked hard to increase the availability of computer science education in the Lone Star state,” said Congressional App Challenge director Rachel Décoste. Thus far this year, 12 members of Texas’ federal Congressional delegation are holding a  Congressional App Challenge.

The Congressional App Challenge(CAC), is a congressional initiative that encourages middle and high-schoolers to learn to code through annual district-wide competitions hosted by their Members of Congress. Winners receive recognition from their Member of Congress and their app eligible to be displayed on Capitol Hill.

In the first 3 years of the Congressional App Challenge, the program yielded 605 App Challenges across 42 states. Over 2,400 apps have been created by nearly 9,000 students, and participant demographics surpass all industry diversity metrics. This year’s Congressional App Challenge launched in June and students are encouraged to register online by Sept 10th.

The WeTeach_CS Summit will include presentations, panels and seminars such as “Technology by Artists Musicians and Dancers,” “Drones,” and “Raspberry Pi in Space”.  Décoste presented the App Challenge in the “Student Competitions” session and panel on along with high school computer science teacher and WeTeach_CS “ChangeMaker” awardee  Jerald Jolito of Pecos (West Texas), CyberPatriot mentor Fred Hall, and CS teacher Joules Webb.

“We encourage all middle and high schoolers from Texas and beyond to keep innovating, keep coding, and enter their projects into their local Congressional App Challenge,” said Rachel Décoste.

Currently, 12 of Texas’ Members of Congress have signed up to host App Challenges in their districts for the 2018 CAC competition.