Exploring Computer Science is a high school introduction to the world of computer science and problem solving. It is a yearlong course consisting of 6 units, approximately 6 weeks each. The curriculum package comes with daily instructional lesson plans for teachers, plus supplemental extension resources. Learn about our framework, context, alignment, and units below.
As you read through the ECS units in more detail, look for our three strands:
Coursework focuses on both computer science content and computational practices, and units utilize a variety of tools and platforms.
An inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning frames the instructional design of the curriculum.
Assignments and instruction are contextualized to be socially relevant and meaningful for diverse students.
Computing is situated within economic, social, and cultural contexts and, therefore, influences and is influenced by each of these. So, in order to fully prepare students for various academic and applied tracks, ethical and social issues in computing and careers in computing are incorporated into the six units:
- Emphasis is placed on how computing enables innovation in a variety of fields and the impacts that those innovations have on society.
- Students are introduced to the ethical issues raised by the proliferation of computers and networks, as well as the positive and negative impacts of new technologies 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.
Exploring Computer Science aligns well with Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways including Information Technology; Engineering and Design; and Arts, Media and Entertainment Technology among others. It is also conceptually and pedagogically aligned with college preparation coursework such as AP® CS Principles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In our new curriculum unit, students explore electronic textiles (e-textiles): articles of clothing, accessories, or home furnishings with embedded electronic and computational elements. This curriculum is an alternate for Unit 6: Robotics. After conducting various studies on curriculum design, teaching strategies, student learning, and portfolio designs, this unit is ready for download and classroom implementation by ECS teachers. Unit 6: Electronic Textiles consists of four open-ended, hands-on projects requiring students to create artifacts with increasingly challenging computational concepts, use high and low-tech materials hone their crafting and designing skills, and troubleshoot malfunctioning projects.
The aim of this unit is to demystify the topic of AI, with students gaining an understanding of AI terminology such as machine learning and deep learning. Students will gain knowledge and skills while considering the social, moral, and ethical impacts of AI systems and usage. The unit has students explore practical daily applications of AI that are likely to have an impact upon their lives. Throughout the unit students are encouraged to come up with their own designs for areas such as smart cities, homes, and schools and to share them with the group. Students also learn to build, train, and test an AI system through a NVIDIA platform. Students are also encouraged to look at how “the message of AI” is communicated to each of us through images and narratives.