Some Missouri S&T undergraduates hope to squash the nerd stereotype commonly associated with computer
science by getting elementary school kids – especially girls – interested in the field. They’re doing so by developing fun recruitment software called Computer Science Recruitment for the 21st Century, or CSRecruit21.
The key is to target them while they are young, says Daniel Tauritz, assistant professor of computer science. “We want to reach them before their minds are made up, and make sure they enroll in the elective math and science courses in middle school and high school that will prepare them for a career in computer science.”
With the percentage of female students entering computer science on the decline nationally since the 1970s, it’s especially important to present computing’s impact on society. According to Tauritz, research has shown that women favor socially relevant vocations, such as medical careers, where they have a direct impact on people and society. CSRecruit21’s software shows in a variety of ways how careers in computer science help people by providing real examples of ways Missouri S&T computer science graduates impact society.
Missouri S&T computer science majors Jasmine (Bowles) Glaese, of Leasburg, Mo., and Lisa Guntly and Jessica Williams, both of St. Louis, are the second group of female students to work on the project. Kristen Loesch, CSci’07, and Laura Woodward, CSci’07, started CSRecruit21 in August 2006.
Glaese, Guntly and Williams are fine-tuning the software and adding new games. The software offers students a variety of activities to choose from, such as a memory game, a board game and a maze. All of the activities are interwoven with information and questions about computer science. The software is targeted at children in the third through sixth grades.
Another group of computer science undergraduates will take over the project this fall, Tauritz says. Eventually, a version of the software will be available for download online.