Tiara Booker-Dwyer: Assistant State Superintendent
Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)
How did you first get interested in computer science?
I began my career in neuroscience. There are several connections between neuroscience and computer science, especially when exploring the field of artificial intelligence. Together, neuroscience and computer science can lead to great advances in our society, which is why I became interested in computer science. When I transitioned to become an educator at the middle school, high school, and college levels, I routinely incorporated computer science concepts into my science classes. As an Assistant State Superintendent, I have enjoyed leading the implementation of computer science statewide and supporting national initiatives such as serving as one of the writers for the K12 CS Framework.
Why do you think that students in Maryland should have the opportunity to learn CS?
Computer science education teaches students to think critically and analytically to innovate solutions to problems. This type of thinking is applied in all careers and in everyday life. Students in Maryland have the opportunity to take computer science courses to fulfill graduation requirements. In 2021, regulation was revised to create a Computer Science, Engineering, or Technology Education graduation requirement for all Maryland high school students. This graduation requirement emphasizes the need to foster the critically thinking skills required by the workforce.
What are some success stories for CS in Maryland as a state?
Maryland remains a leader in computer science education. Students engage in computer science education as early as elementary school. Student can continue to engage in computer science content throughout middle and high schools with opportunities for students to enroll in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs and take AP courses focused on computer science. We are starting to see high school level computer science courses being offered at the middle school level. This is because school systems are establishing a strong computer science foundation in elementary school, which allows students to take more advance computer science course earlier in their learning. There are over 21,000 students enrolled in a computer science focused CTE program. Thousands of teachers have participated in professional learning experience focused on computer science. School leaders have worked hard to ensure equipment and supplies that are needed for computer science are available in school buildings. MSDE is working together with Code in the Schools, MCCE, Code.org, Microsoft, Apple, and others to support computer science, training thousands of teachers across the state and creating CTE programs that meet workforce needs in the computer science field.
Describe an interesting story from your own CS experience
My son’s first computer was built by his father, with the help of the family. It was an interesting experience for the entire family to participate in building a working computer together. There were a lot of advantages to building a computer such as adding a clear case
so that we could see inside, adding fancy lighting, and optimizing the performance through RAM and other items. My daughter loves computer science as well. She enjoys participating in the Coding Club at her elementary school. She goes to school early once a week to develop video games, which she shares with our family. These types of experiences are becoming available to more and more students each year. Computer science continues to grow, which benefits students across Maryland.