"If there is one thing we try to avoid in our class, it is (being) boring. We often try to show how deeply computer science has altered our world," he said. "We even have some students who plan to code artistic projects. I think Steve Jobs was spot on when he called computer science a liberal art."
Bad numbers, big gains
About 80% of TEALS' volunteers are Microsoft employees, part of a push by the company to address the dearth of engineering talent in the U.S. The program is also part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, which seeks to provide better access to education for young people worldwide.
For Donald Hense, CEO and founder of the Friendship Public Charter Schools in the Washington, D.C., area, TEALS was a boon.
"We were excited that it could help us identify extremely qualified teachers to staff a very difficult field," he said. "We specifically pushed for STEM courses in our schools. Kids are judged on ability, and the ability to code is going to help them a long way in tomorrow's world."
The numbers suggest Wang has an uphill battle. In 2012, only 61 students took advanced-placement computer science in the entire state of Utah, for example. In the nation's capital, it's the same number. But Wang is taking an optimistic view.
"The numbers are so bad that anything we can do is a huge, huge gain," he told CNN.
Wang needs more students like Adrian Chavez, a senior taking a TEALS AP course at Hazen High School in Renton, Washington, who said, "It is a dream of mine to someday work as a software engineer or programmer graphic artist in video games."
What would really help, Wang said, is if states recognized computer science as a core requirement rather than an elective.
"It really should be the fourth science course in high school, right beside biology, physics and chemistry," he said. "If the next generation in this country is going to compete successfully for 21st-century jobs, they're going to need to know computer science."