Execute Big Research
When COVID-19 hit, it changed everything.
Execute Big was an organization founded with the idea that all students should get to experience the beauty of computer science. For the first few months after it was founded, we had the opportunity to fund talented, passionate high school hackers to fly all over the country and attend the best hackathons in the world. We helped student organizers send emails for marketing and money, and we even ran a high school hackathon for a school up in Cleveland, OH.
But, for the past few months, just like everyone else, we've been grappling with this new COVID reality ourselves, figuring out how to manage everything in our busy lives through only virtual communication. However, we are both deeply grateful to have privileged, stable homes to return to, even if it isn't as nice as seeing our friends every day in school.
The hackathon community has suffered a hit as well. Widespread lockdowns and travel restrictions have made it nearly impossible for students to even see their friends, much less fly across the country to attend hackathons. As a result, hackathons are increasingly going virtual, meaning that there's no longer (as many) geographic barriers, and Execute Big's travel grant isn't needed at the moment. On top of that, there's no need for as much hackathon advising since online hackathons don't require the same level of time or energy to fundraise and market, and now that schools are online as well, our hackathon consulting program as temporarily on hiatus as well.
But, this doesn't mean we're just going to sit back and wait until life returns to normal. Though we can't necessarily be contributing via hackathons right now, we're using this opportunity to take a deep dive into the state of computer science education programs in the United States.
We'll be the first to admit that we have little to no research experience, but while research skills can be developed, an nuanced understanding of CS education in American primary and secondary schooling is where we've found our niche. We've seen the problems in American CS education firsthand, not only as students who went through public school and took computer science classes ourselves, but as hackathon organizers who have met students from all over with incredible potential but no feasible way or motivation to learn about coding in school.
Just like how Execute Big aims to provide opportunities to high school students in innovative, non-standard ways, Execute Big also brings a new perspective to an emerging question that has yet to be answered: How do we make CS education better?
The specific questions we seek to answer through our research are:
What can people do to get more students into CS?
Why don't students go into CS?
Why don't girls tend to go into CS?
Why don't black students tend to go into CS?
How can schools develop better CS programs? What makes a CS program good?
We'll keep this page updated as we get deeper into our research.
This research is led by co-founders of Execute Big: Megan Cui, a rising sophomore at Harvard, and Mingjie Jiang, an incoming freshman at UC Berkeley.
Have anything specific that you'd love to see included in the research? We are always willing to add your new ideas to our list. Please feel free to email [email protected] to get in touch with us. You can also support us by donating.
Let's work together to create the future of CS education.
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