Amador Valley High School has received an AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award from the nonprofit College Board for its efforts to engage more young women in computer science. Out of 20,000 eligible schools nationwide, Amador was one of only 639 to receive the award.
“In a time when there is a nationwide push for more females in what has been historically a male-dominated field, this achievement is significant,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Janelle Woodward. “Amador Valley computer science teachers Richard Hanson and Kevin Kiyoi have fostered an incredible environment that helps encourage more students to explore the field of computer science.”
Over the past three years, Amador has seen a 10 percent increase in female student participation in computer science courses, and its computer science program has nearly doubled the number of classes offered, Woodward said. That includes a survey course where students can learn about different areas of computer science that they can pursue as a career, such as coding, virtual reality, robotics, and game theory.
“It’s interesting to see how computer science is integrated into so many fields these days,” said Amador sophomore Alyssa Chen. “It’s also interesting because you’re taking virtually nothing and you’re pulling out the knowledge and creating something that can be used. I think that’s pretty cool.”
Chen was part of the first all-girls team from Amador Valley to advance in the Regional Chevron Design Challenge last year, which is hosted by Amador Valley High School.
In addition to teaching computer science classes, Kiyoi and Hanson have organized special events and helped supervise student clubs to get students interested in the field at a younger age. Hanson and his students run the ACE Coding Club, which, among other initiatives, hosts events for elementary and middle school students. Kiyoi helps lead the Girls Who Code Club, and for the last two years has hosted all-female professional panels to discuss careers in computer science. This year, the Girls Who Code Club will host a daylong event on March 7 that will be open to Pleasanton elementary and middle school students.
Amador Valley’s computer science courses are part of the Pleasanton Unified School District’s focus on career technical education (CTE) through its Project Lead the Way program.