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Exploring Computer Science: Scope and Sequence
Exploring Computer Science is a yearlong course consisting of 6 units, approximately 6 weeks each. The course was developed around a framework of both computer science content and computational practice. Assignments and instruction are contextualized to be socially relevant and meaningful for diverse students. Units utilize a variety of tools/platforms, and culminate with final projects around the following topics:
- Human Computer Interaction In this unit students are introduced to the concepts of computer and computing while investigating the major components of computers and the suitability of these components for particular applications. Students will experiment with internet search techniques, explore a variety of websites and web applications and discuss issues of privacy and security. Fundamental notions of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and ergonomics are introduced. Students will learn that “intelligent” machine behavior is not “magic” but is based on algorithms applied to useful representations of information, including large data sets. Students will learn the characteristics that make certain tasks easy or difficult for computers, and how these differ from those that humans characteristically find easy or difficult. Students will gain an appreciation for the many ways in which computing-enabled innovation have had an impact on society, as well as for the many different fields in which they are used. Connections among social, economical and cultural contexts will be discussed.
- Problem Solving This unit provides students with opportunities to become “computational thinkers” by applying a variety of problem-solving techniques as they create solutions to problems that are situated in a variety of contexts. The range of contexts motivates the need for students to think abstractly and apply known algorithms where appropriate, but also create new algorithms. Analysis of various solutions and algorithms will highlight problems that are not easily solved by computer and for which there are no known solutions. This unit also focuses on the connections between mathematics and computer science. Students will be introduced to selected topics in discrete mathematics including Boolean logic, functions, graphs and the binary number system. Students are also introduced to searching and sorting algorithms and graphs.
- Web Design This section prepares students to take the role of a developer by expanding their knowledge of algorithms, abstraction, and web page design and applying it to the creation of web pages and documentation for users and equipment. Students will explore issues of social responsibility in web use. They will learn to plan and code their web pages using a variety of techniques and check their sites for usability. Students learn to create user-friendly websites. Students will apply fundamental notions of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and ergonomics.
- Programming Students are introduced to some basic issues associated with program design and development. Students design algorithms and create programming solutions to a variety of computational problems using an iterative development process in Scratch. Programming problems include mathematical and logical concepts and a variety of programming constructs.
- 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. Students will work with a variety of large data sets that illustrate how widespread access to data and information facilitates identification of problems. Students will collect and generate their own data related to local community issues and discuss appropriate methods for data collection and aggregation of data necessary to support making a case or facilitating a discovery.
- Robotics This unit introduces robotics as an advanced application of computer science that can be used to solve problems in a variety of settings from business to healthcare and how robotics enables innovation by automating processes that may be dangerous or otherwise problematic for humans. Students explore how to integrate hardware and software in order to solve problems. Students will see the effect of software and hardware design on the resulting product. Students will apply previously learned topics to the study of robotics.
Ethical and social issues in computing, and careers in computing, are woven throughout the six units. Throughout the course, is placed on how computing enables innovation in a variety of fields and the impacts that those innovations have on society. Computing is situated within economic, social and cultural contexts and, therefore, influences and is influenced by each of these. The proliferation of computers and networks raises a number of ethical issues. Technology has had both positive and negative impacts on human culture. Students will be able to identify ethical behavior and articulate both sides of ethical topics. Students study the responsibilities of software users and software developers with respect to intellectual property rights, software failures, and the piracy of software and other digital media. They are introduced to the concept of open-source software development and explore its implications. Students identify and describe careers in computing and careers that employ computing.