Computer Science Department Hosts NSF Workshop on "Science Education in Computational Thinking"
Faculty in the Computer Science, Physics, and Chemistry departments at Purdue University have been awarded a three-year NSF grant in the new program "Pathways to Revitalized Undergraduate Computing Education (CPATH)”. The CPATH initiative funds novel projects creating better computing education at the undergraduate level today to ensure the U.S. has the talented individuals it needs to meet the computational challenges of tomorrow. Purdue's Project SECANT, Science Education in Computational Thinking, is a collaboration involving Susanne Hambrusch (CS), Chris Hoffmann (CS), Tony Hosking (CS), Tim Korb (CS), Mark Haugan (Physics), and Sabre Kais (Chemistry). The goal is to bring together computer scientists and natural scientists who recognize that computing has become indispensable to scientific inquiry and is set to permeate science in a transformative manner.
The first SECANT workshop will be held November 15 and 16, 2007 at Purdue University. Participants will include computer scientists, physicists, and chemists from Big Ten institutions, undergraduate institutions, and scientists from the industry. The workshop will address how to make computational thinking a central part of an undergraduate science education through the development of new courses focused on the computational understanding relevant to tomorrow’s scientist. Susanne Hambrusch, PI of the grant and professor of computer science, says “Interest in the workshop has been very strong and we expect a diverse set of participants. We are planning an interactive workshop with a few short talks, panel presentations, and round table discussions.” The workshop will include sessions on the following topics:
- Creating a dialog between science and computer science
- Programming in the small versus the big picture approach
- Relevant CS topics and projects for science students and what to avoid
- Use of visualization in understanding computational and scientific processes
- Building a community for sharing resources
- The next generation of scientists in the workforce.
A course, (CS 190C): “Introduction to Computational Thinking,” is currently being developed and will be offered in spring 2008. The course will introduce science majors to computational thinking via basic programming concepts, data and data management concepts, simulation, and visual interaction. The course will use the Python programming language. VPython 3D visualization package will be coordinated with material on computational physics currently covered in Physics 172. College of Science Dean, Jeff Vitter, says “The new College of Science undergraduate curriculum focuses on skills for success in an ever-changing world. The emphasis is on problem solving and critical thinking and providing students with the practical training to thrive in today's technological society, along with the theoretical basis to adapt to and lead tomorrow's. Computational thinking and multidisciplinary experiences are key components in this effort. I am very pleased that computer science is taking this leadership role.”
More information, including the agenda and a registration link, is available at the workshop web site, http://secant.cs.purdue.edu. Or visit http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2007b/071114HambruschWorkshop.html for the Purdue University News Release.