TITLE: An Honest Question Deserves An Honest Answer AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 08, 2008 6:08 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Today I spent the morning meeting with prospective CS majors and their parents. These prospective majors were high school seniors visiting campus as part of their deciding whether to come to my university. Such mornings are exhausting for me, because I'm not a natural glad-hander. Still, it is a lot of fun talking to folks about computer science and our programs. We end up spending a lot of time with relatively few folks, but I think of it like the retail politics of Iowa's caucus campaign: the word-of-mouth marketing is more valuable than any one or two majors we might attract, and these days, every new major counts. Twice today I was surprised but a question that more high school students and parents could ask, but don't:
Me: So, you're interested in computer science? Student: I think so, but I don't really know what computer science is. Parent: Can you tell us what computer science is and what computer scientists do?
I'm glad that kids are now interested enough in CS to ask. In recent years, most have simply bypassed us for majors they understood already. My answer was different each time but consistent in theme to what I talk about here. It occurs to me that "What Is Computer Science?" could make a good blog entry, and that writing it in concise form would probably be good practice for encounters such as the ones I had today. -----