Computer Science Office

October Newsletter

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A Message From Computer Science Supervisor Nicholas Grzeda

One of the pillars of Computer Science and Computational Thinking is developing algorithms. When we hear the word algorithm, our minds tend to focus only on coding and robotics. What we need to realize is that humans follow algorithms all throughout the day.

From the moment you wake up, you follow routines and sequences to complete such things as brushing your teeth, making breakfast, and getting dressed. It is important that we show our students that the same thought processes computer programmers utilize to design software can be applied to the various subjects and tasks they encounter throughout the day.

Computational Thinking Spotlight: Developing Algorithms

When we connect the Computational Thinking component of Developing Algorithms to core content, students learn the importance of constructing step-by-step processes for solving a problem, and like problems so that the work can be replicated by others. Designing and debugging algorithms allows each student to both communicate and interpret clear instructions for a predictable, reliable outcome.

Elementary School Computer Science Spotlight

Sarah Winsheimer: 2nd Grade Teacher at Tolbert Elementary

As part of their math curriculum, students have been learning how to skip count. To integrate Computer Science into their math block, students created an algorithm to get their Blue-Bot through a skip counting mat. For the first part of the task, students had to write their algorithm on a recording sheet. Then, they used their Blue-Bot to try out their code. Next, students used their Computational Thinking skills to debug their code when their robot did not make it to the end.

Students collaborated in groups and took turns trying out their algorithms. Throughout the rest of the week, students had the opportunity to try out other skip counting mats during math workshop.

When asked about how Computer Science enhanced their understanding of the math content, Ms. Winsheimer said, "My class had a great time making their algorithms with the Blue Bots. I loved hearing their conversations on how to debug their algorithms. They were so excited to see their skip counting in action!"

Emily Nykorchuk: 5th Grade Teacher at Liberty Elementary

In her fifth grade classroom, Ms. Nykorchuk utilizes algorithms as a way to discuss Events (What happens when you enter the school), Loops (Things that occur frequently throughout the day), and Functions (Things that need to be defined in order to fully comprehend).

Middle School Computer Science Spotlight

Katie Zangara: History 6 Seneca Ridge Middle School

In her history class, Ms. Zangra used the Root robots with her students to learn more about the geography of the five American Indian Tribes. Students had to measure out the distance on a map between the tribes and program their robots to make a round trip to 'visit' each tribe. Afterwards, they had to reflect on the coding process and compare and contrast the geographic regions.

When asked about the benefits of integrating Computer Science and Computational Thinking into her class, Ms. Zangara said the following, "I love being able to integrate Computational Thinking and Computer Science into my history curriculum. We have used the Root robots, Scratch, and even some 3D modeling with TinkerCAD which allows me to be creative with my lessons. Students love the activities and Computational Thinking helps them to reach a deeper understanding of the history materials in a different way than they are used to. The best part is helping to spark a new interest in history with technology for all of my students."

Tracy Rossi: Science 7 Farmwell Station Middle School

In this science integrated lesson, students utilized Computational Thinking, in particular using algorithms and decomposing problems, to become successful with understanding how and why we use microscopes in science. This introductory lesson really helped set students up for success during investigations.

When asked about how she integrated Computational Thinking into her lesson, Ms. Rossi said, "I love this intro to microscopes lab where students get to figure out the parts of the microscope then see science "up close" for the first time. They are always shocked and amazed at the detail they can see and it makes them proud to be able to find the real thing on their own. In this lab, students decomposed the problem of how to learn and use a microscope. They then followed algorithms for specific steps that needed to be done in a certain order. All students were able to successfully use the microscope by the end of the class!"

Spooktacular Algorithms

Algorithm Kitchen Halloween

Elementary Computer Science Resources

Middle School Computer Science Resources

Professional Development Opportunities

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