Exploring Computer Science (ECS) Course Abstract:
- Length: One or two Semesters
- Prerequisites: None
- Grade level: 9-12
Exploring Computer Science was developed as a yearlong course consisting of 6 units, approximately 6 weeks each. The course units draw on the curricular framework listed in Levels II and III of the ACM’s A Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science (2003). Assignments and instruction are contextualized to be socially relevant and meaningful for diverse students. This is an introductory course open to all interested students. Ethical and social issues in computing, and careers in computing, are woven throughout. Units utilize a variety of tools/platforms, and culminate with final projects around the following topics:
- Human Computer Interaction: Students are introduced to the major components of the computer, including: input, output, memory, storage, processing, software, and the operating system. Students consider how Internet elements (e.g. email, chat, WWW) are organized, engage in effective searching, and focus on productive use of email. Fundamental notions of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and ergonomics are introduced.
- Problem Solving: This unit covers the basic steps in algorithmic problem-solving, including the problem statement and exploration, examination of sample instances, design, program coding, testing, and verification.
- Web Design: This section prepares students to take the role of a developer by expanding their knowledge of programming and Web page design and applying it to the creation of Web pages, programs, and documentation for users and equipment.
- Programming: Students are introduced to some basic issues associated with program design and development. Students design algorithms and programming solutions to a variety of computational problems, using Scratch. Programming problems should include control structures, functions, parameters, objects and classes, structured programming and event-driven programming techniques.
- Computing and Data Analysis: In this unit students explore how computing has facilitated new methods of managing and interpreting data. Students will use computers to translate, process and visualize data in order to find patterns and test hypotheses.
- Robotics: Students apply previously learned topics to the study of robotics and work in small groups to build and program a robot to perform a required task.
The complete curriculum, made available through the National Science Foundation, can be found at:
- Students will require connections to the internet and access to a computing device. For example, students can develop the projects using free open-source platforms on Chromebooks.