If the goal of high school chemistry and physics classes is to create the scientists of the future, Christopher Orban believes something crucial is being left out.
All branches of science already rely heavily on computer programming and will become even more dependent on it, yet science curriculum in high school usually fails to incorporate it, he said.
Orban, an assistant professor with the Ohio State University Department of Physics, has embarked on a campaign to fill that gap.
The computational physicist will bring his free workshop in code writing for students ages 12-17 to the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 3909 N. High St., from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 22.
Titled "The Physics of Video Games," the course is for all skill levels.
"The idea is to expose kids to computer science and programming and see if they might be interested, whether as a hobby, major or future career," said Ben Zenitsky, marketing and communications specialist with the library.
Orban, who is at OSU's Marion campus, said he encounters science students with 4.0 grade-point averages who "have never so much as changed a line of computer coding.
"My sermon is that AP computer science is not the end," he said. "That's just the beginning. But a lot more kids are going to take physics and chemistry than ever take AP computer science. If you want to teach kids how to code, you've got to introduce it into those courses as well."
Orban has held similar workshops at the library's Parsons and Whitehall branches. He said part of the program involves pointing out the inaccuracies in the physics of video games.
For example, in the popular Mario Kart series, a driver can go from flying through the air to underwater without slowing down.
"It's not that hard to sort of deconstruct these games and get kids to think more critically about the games they play," Orban said. "That's the framework. We have a nice discussion about that."
As a coding exercise, Orban said he helps students create their own video game.
"Exposing kids and teens to these kinds of programs is incredibly important," Young Minds program leader Kelli Bates said in a statement. "It's about channeling their creativity and letting them have fun while also getting them to start thinking critically about their future."
"At Columbus Metropolitan Library, we work hard to equip young minds with the tools they need to be successful in school, but it's also about finding and nurturing those creative sparks," Zenitsky said. "How can we leverage their interests or hobbies into something that can become a passion or a career or maybe even a life's calling?"