Cornell Tech provides computer science lessons for K-12 children who are home because of the coronavirus pandemic. The “new virtual lesson plan” helps teachers remotely instruct their students in computational thinking. Read Melanie Lefkowitz's story in the Chronicle, where we learn about Diane Levitt, senior director of K-12 education at Cornell Tech and a lead resource for this project.

The virtual lessons—as well as daily computational challenges posted on Twitter under the handle @Breakfast_CS—are part of their efforts to continue promoting computer science education for all children, even as the city, and the world, tackle unprecedented challenges. [...]

In all of their lessons—formerly in-person and now virtual—Levitt’s team aims to give students tools to think computationally. That involves understanding that an algorithm is a series of instructions required to perform a task; that decomposing means breaking a task up into manageable parts; and that debugging is going back and figuring out where the mistakes were and how to fix them.

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Donald Greenberg—Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Graphics;
Director, Cornell University Program of Computer Graphics; Founding Director, National Science and Technology Center for Computer Graphics and Scientific Visualization; Professor, Architecture, Art, Computer Science; and Johnson Graduate School of Management—will present a keynote at the twenty-first international VFX computer graphics VIEW conference in Turin, Italy. As noted in Animation Magazine:

[Greenberg] teaches CG courses in Computer Science, computer-aided design in the Department of Architecture, computer animation in the Department of Art, and technology strategy in the Business School. He is the Director of the Program of Computer Graphics and was the originator Director of the Computer Aided Design Instructional Facility at Cornell University. Five former students have won Hollywood’s Sci-Tech Oscars, and five have won the prestigious SIGGRAPH Achievement Award. Dr. Greenberg’s honors include the ACM SIGGRAPH Steven A. Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions to Computer Graphics, NCGA Academic Award, and the ASCA Creative Research Award in Architecture.

Conference Director Dr. Maria Elena Gutierrez noted: “We are honored that these two brilliant pioneering researchers, Paul Debevec and Donald Greenberg, will bring their inspiring visions to VIEW. They have opened the minds of so many people to new ways of looking at the world. They are the perfect speakers to highlight the October VIEW Conference in a revitalized Italy.”

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Anmol Kabra was named a Merrill Presidential Scholar, which honors Cornell’s “most outstanding graduating seniors” and the teachers who support them.

Since 1988, the Merrill Presidential Scholars Program has honored Cornell University’s most outstanding graduating seniors, while also recognizing the teachers who have played a significant role in ensuring their success. Each scholar is given an opportunity to recognize the high school teacher who most inspired his or her scholastic development and the Cornell faculty member who most significantly contributed to his or her college experience. Merrill Presidential Scholars rank among the top one percent of the class in their respective schools and colleges. 

Kabra notes: "I’m a senior (4th year) undergrad at Cornell University, and a recipient of the Tata Scholarship and the Telluride Scholarship. I study Computer Science and Applied Mathematics with a focus on Machine Learning and Optimization. Additionally, I’m interested in environmental and economic sustainability." He conducts research at the Computational Sustainability lab and volunteers as the Research Lead in Cornell’s Association of Computer Science Undergraduates.

Kabra has worked with CS Professor and Director of the Institute for Computational Sustainability (ICSCarla Gomes' research group since his Freshman year at Cornell. He will now pursue doctoral studies at The University of Chicago. When asked to name the teachers who have had a tremendous positive influence on his academic career, Kabra selected Rajendra Nagar, Patna, Bihar, India; Rekha Vinod, Delhi Public School; and Professor Gomes.

The Chronicle has a story about this year's cohort of Merrill Presidential Scholars.

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CS Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3), Emin Gün Sirer suggests that blockchain-based stablecoins backed by physical assets could help individuals and governments navigate potential or ongoing economic crises. In concert with best-selling author, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a Lebanese-American former options trader and author of the best-selling book The Black Swan, Sirer—who is also the CEO of the digital asset marketplace Ava Labs, Inc.—addresses the fiscal crisis unfolding in Lebanon and how cryptocurrency may be a stablizing force. Commenting in The Daily Hodl, Sirer says:

“What’s happening in Lebanon (government moving towards freezing all foreign-denominated accounts) is what will happen across many other countries. Move to cryptocurrencies to avoid a quarantine that ends with a forced, government-mandated ‘haircut’!”

"[Silver and gold] put people at risk if they take possession. And if people don’t take possession, these assets are subject to counterparty risk. Digital assets provably backed by physical goods, including precious metals, are awesome. We designed AVA to facilitate their issuance and transfer, among other things."