Pinkard Featured During Computer Science Week

Pinkard Featured During Computer Science Week

Nichole PinkardNichole Pinkard

Northwestern University’s Nichole Pinkard (PhD98), one of the nation's first learning scientists, was highlighted in a National Science Foundation (NSF) computer science campaign for her work empowering middle school girls in the STEM fields.

Launched on Dec. 4 to kick off computer science week, the NSF campaign stresses the importance of computer science education and lauds the efforts of Pinkard and 11 other innovative NSF-funded researchers.

Pinkard’s team, which includes software developers, curriculum designers, and learning scientists, has created an online social network platform to power the Digital Youth Divas program.

Digital Youth Divas helps middle school girls develop STEM identities and learn design-based engineering and computer science in settings outside of school. In both online and face-to-face spaces, “the girls use circuitry, coding, and fabrication to design, create, and re-imagine items like jewelry and hair accessories,” said Pinkard, associate professor of learning sciences at the School of Education and Social Policy. “It’s also a platform for activities like music, dancing, and talking to friends.”

Northwestern University pioneered the field of learning sciences, and Pinkard was among the first class of graduates in 1998. Learning Sciences is now offered at the undergraduate level.

In 2017, Northwestern launched a joint learning sciences/computer science doctoral program, the first of its kind in the nation. Moreover, the School of Education and Social Policy has four faculty members -- Michael Horn, Uri Wilensky, Eleanor O'Rourke and Marcelo Worsley -- who are jointly appointed in learning sciences and computer science. 

Computer Science Education Week was established by Congress in 2009 to highlight the transformative role of computing and the need to bolster computer science education across all levels. NSF funds research and development that leads to building rigorous and engaging computer science in schools across the U.S.

To read more about computer scientists who are making a difference, read the profiles of the NSF-funded researchers.

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 12/7/17