A diverse group of teenage friends learn how computing can be personally and politically empowering and why all students need access to computer science education.
This lively graphic novel follows a diverse group of teenage friends as they discover that computing can be fun, creative, and empowering. Taylor, Christine, Antonio, and Jon seem like typical young teens—they communicate via endless texting, they share jokes, they worry about starting high school, and they have each other's backs. But when a racially-biased artificial intelligence system causes harm in their neighborhood, they suddenly realize that tech isn't as neutral as they thought it was. But can an algorithm be racist? And what is an algorithm, anyway?
In school, they decide to explore computing classes, with mixed results. One class is only about typing. The class that Christine wants to join is full, and the school counselor suggests that she take a class in “Tourism and Hospitality” instead. (Really??) But Antonio's class seems legit, Christine finds an after-school program, and they decide to teach the others what they learn. By summer vacation, all four have discovered that computing is both personally and politically empowering.
Interspersed through the narrative are text boxes with computer science explainers and inspirational profiles of people of color and women in the field (including Katherine Johnson of Hidden Figures fame). Power On! is an essential read for young adults, general readers, educators, and anyone interested in the power of computing, how computing can do good or cause harm, and why addressing underrepresentation in computing needs to be a top priority.
From the authors of Power On!
In today's world, technology is impacting every aspect of our lives. We wrote Power On! to fill a gap in current computer science classrooms and out-of-school programs by providing an accessible educational tool for discussing pressing issues of equity and ethics in tech, while motivating all youth to learn about computer science, regardless of their career path. Our hope is that this graphic novel can serve as an engaging way to learn about current research in computer science and computing education.
We also hope this book can spark conversation, introducing a wide range of topics for people to pick up, discuss, and learn more about together. The book will be published with a free educator guide available at www.poweronbook.com, providing discussion questions such as:
· What are ways that technology is creating social good as well as harm in today's world?
· Can robots be racist?
· Why does underrepresentation of students of color and females matter?
· What can be done to change this underrepresentation?
· What ideas do you have for a technological innovation that could address a social problem you care about?
· How can we help support all students in getting the education they deserve and need?
“A must-read for every educator working to make the pressing issues of technology and harm legible to kids.”
Safiya Noble, Associate Professor, UCLA; author of Algorithms of Oppression
“A meaningful, student-centered look at the impact of computing, and the power of student voice. I encourage computer science teachers of all grade levels to read this and share with their students.”
Jake Baskin, Executive Director, Computer Science Teachers Association
“Power On! is a next-level, full-service graphic novel that is sure to 'power on' CS education for students. I couldn't put it down!”
Brenda Wilkerson, President and CEO, AnitaB.org
“A brilliant model of theory to practice for digital equity scholars and practitioners.”
Kim Scott, author of Compugirls: How Girls of Color Find and Define Themselves in the Digital Age
“Margolis and Ryoo have found the perfect medium to convey to young Latina/o students the importance of their participation in artificial intelligence. The message is clear and empowering and will leave students asking for more.”
Patti Ordóñez, Associate Professor of Computer Science, University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras
“Power On! is a beautifully written and illustrated tool for engaging learners in critical issues related to equity, justice, and computer science education, and empowering young people to be the leaders of our future.
Allison Scott, CEO, Kapor Center
“Power On! does a great job of identifying the many challenges students from different identities face in pursuing/completing CS courses. I love how they all find ways to advocate for themselves and others!”
Nicki Washington, Professor of Practice, Duke University; author of Unapologetically Dope: Lessons for Black Women and Girls on Surviving and Thriving in the Tech Field
“Power On! reveals the deep connections we too often overlook between computer science, narrative, friendship, and justice. Drop into a dynamic story world where four devoted friends support one another, learn a lot, and mobilize for change.”
Lissa Soep, coauthor of Code for What? Computer Science as a Medium for Storytelling and Justice
"Power On! is a fresh read from the otherwise superhero, fantasy, and science fiction stories that majorly fill this [comic book and graphic novel] space. In fact, the writers have created a group of heroes in their own right, just without all the multi-million-pound gadgets and special powers, that could hopefully inspire potential young readers… It's about time that things begin to change, and graphic novels like these are a step in the right direction."
“What a cool concept: This new graphic novel follows four friends who use computer science to make the tech world—and the world more broadly—a fairer, more equitable place. Make sure to share it with a young person in your life.”
Melinda French Gates
"Informative, impactful.... The authors deftly weave factual information... in with the computer science narrative, and the texture of teenage life in the early 2020s: quizzes, parental pressure, Black Lives Matter protests, bullying, family strife, a Juneteenth barbecue, crushes, and frustrations. They come to know, and show the reader, the importance of diversity in the computer science field, and the empowerment involved in not only understanding it but moving the field forward."
The Boston Globe