Computer Science Office

November Newsletter

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A Message From Computer Science Supervisor Nicholas Grzeda

Data plays an important role throughout our lives. As educators, we use data to assess our students to provide them with interventions and enrichment opportunities.

Think about how our students are immersed in data in their day-to-day lives – from a kindergartner thinking about how they are feeling during a morning meeting to a high schooler analyzing a graph based on data they collected during an experiment. We need to show our students the impact data has on their ability to understand the world they live in.

As much as we focus on the quantitative aspect of data, we must also highlight the importance of qualitative data. When students realize that data is more than just numbers, it opens up a new way to collect and analyze the world around them.

Which Spiderman are you?

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Computational Thinking Spotlight: Collecting and Analyzing Data

Data is one of the most powerful tools we have to inform, engage, and create opportunities for students along their education journey. Data allows us to connect to things we encounter daily and provides information that can lead to insights and improvements.

Showing students that data is more than just numbers expands their knowledge base, helps them look for patterns in the world around them utilizing qualitative and quantitative measurements, and strengthens their ability to abstract important details. Data can also be used when creating and debugging algorithms, as well as when designing computational models.

Collecting and Analyzing Data with the CT Crew

Computational Thinking: Collecting and Analyzing Data

Elementary School Computer Science Spotlight

Kenneth W. Culbert Elementary

It is always exciting to observe students working with robotics to reinforce concepts taught in their core content. Students at Kenneth W. Culbert Elementary have Computer Science and Computational Thinking built into their weekly library time. The quote, "Computer Science is meant for everyone," could not be more prevalent than when a team of teachers worked together to create a way for a visually impaired kindergartener to code BlueBots with his peers.

The team, consisting of Brooke Brown (Kindergarten Teacher), Megan Smith (Vision Teacher), Traci Dougherty (Teacher Assistant), Karen Smith (Librarian), and Kristi Decker (Instructional Facilitator Technology), looked at ways they could modify already created mats to help the student recognize the different shapes. Traci Dougherty took all of their ideas and adapted the mat by outlining each shape with foam paint and placing braille writing in each section so the student could collect and analyze data by feeling the shape's outline and reading the braille letters. The student then worked with his teachers to practice coding the BlueBot to get comfortable using the directional buttons. He used what he learned to code the robot to get to specific shapes on the mat.

Erica Allder: Librarian at Emerick Elementary

During weekly library time, Erica Allder likes integrating Computer Science into her lessons to give students time to engage their Computational Thinking skills and highlight the 5Cs.

For this lesson, students listened to the book The Biggest Pumpkin Ever and were challenged to create something to push or pull a pumpkin across the library. They were free to choose what items to build with from the Makerspace and choose their groups/partners. Students collected data on the different pumpkins and analyzed the materials to determine which would work best. Students worked on their designs during the first lesson, and then the next week, they could use the entire library time to build, code their Dash, and test their designs. Students were able to problem-solve and rebuild as needed. After the activity, students were able to reflect and identify how they used all 5 C's and Computational Thinking during this activity.

Middle School Computer Science Spotlight

Raji Ganguli: 6th Grade Science Teacher at Sterling Middle School

During their investigation on seasons, students were tasked to model the two reasons for seasons (the effect of Earth's revolution around the sun and the tilt of Earth's axis). Students made connections to their background knowledge of the seasons. They interpreted their observations and data (equal, direct, or indirect sunlight) to determine whether a location experienced Fall, Spring, Summer, or Winter.

When asked about the importance of data collection and analysis in this investigation, Raji Ganguli said, "Students in Science 6 are learning to make good observations and collect and interpret data. Collecting and analyzing their data helped them to make logical conclusions about the seasons."

Katie Arnold & Roxanne O’Neil: 8th Grade Civics Teachers at J. Michael Lunsford Middle School

Students in 8th-grade Civics must learn how to apply social science skills to understand the political process at the local, state, and national levels of government. To address this standard, the Civics teachers at J. Michael Lunsford adapted an existing lesson to include CODAP.

CODAP is a free educational software for data analysis. This web-based data science tool is designed as an application for students in grades 6-12. CODAP can be used across the curriculum to help students summarize, visualize, and interpret data, advancing their skills to use data as evidence to support a claim.

When asked about the benefits of integrating Computer Science into their lessons, the 8th-grade team said, “It's great to see students have the opportunity to analyze and manipulate data they collected. It provides an authentic experience for students to make data-driven decisions to create a campaign. Students gained a greater appreciation of why data is collected and how candidates use it in an election year. Students also saw many cross-curricular correlations between Civics, Science, and Math, and many enjoyed showcasing their strengths in different contents in a Social Studies setting. CODAP is an easy program for students to use, and it's the students who find unique things that it can do to make analyzing data easier and more efficient through exploration.”

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CSforVA Conference

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The CSforVA Conference occurred on October 31 at the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum. Over 120 educators from all over Virginia came to learn more about the importance of Computer Science and attended sessions designed to highlight how it can be integrated into the curriculum.

With the help of CodeVA, our very own IFCSs Mike Spiedel, Angie Fraser, and Amy Stelly developed a highly engaging list of sessions that included presenters who shared their expertise on Computer Science and Computational Thinking and inspired all of the attendees to look for ways to continue to grow the CS mindset in their school districts.

Elevate Loudoun Internship Fair

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Over 80 high school students from all over Loudoun County met at Riverside High School on November 1 for the first in-person internship fair. This event was put together by the LCPS Partner Team, which included Kristina Lee, our Experiential Learning Coordinator. Throughout the day, students could attend sessions and meet with representatives from companies such as Dell Technologies, Amazon Web Services, Girls Who Code, and Kashmir World Foundation. Résumé speed dating was also offered throughout the day to assist students in getting feedback from local business partners.

Elementary Computer Science Resources

Middle School Computer Science Resources

Professional Development Opportunities

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Coming Soon: Computer Science Education Week

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