Computer Science Office

December Newsletter

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A Message From The Computer Science Office

Since its inception in 2013, the Hour of Code has been celebrated annually during Computer Science Education Week. Its initial purpose was to remove the stigma that coding was only for computer programmers and show that anyone could learn the basics.

Since then, Hour of Code has reached tens of millions of students in over 180 countries. Hour of Code is designed to show students and teachers that learning Computer Science is fun. At its core, the Hour of Code is not just meant to be an hour. The true goal is to increase awareness of the benefits of Computer Science, open doors, and break stereotypes. The best thing is you are never too old or young to try it!

What Most Schools Don't Teach

Why Do We Celebrate Computer Science Education Week In December?

Every December, Computer Science Education Week is held in recognition of the birthday of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who was born on December 9, 1906. Throughout her life, she dedicated so much to the field of Computer Science. She is credited with coining the term “bug” (an error in a program) after removing an actual moth from a computer in 1947.

Admiral Hopper received numerous accolades in her lifetime. In 1991, President Bush awarded her the National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest technology award. She was the first woman to be so honored as an individual. In 2016 Hopper posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of her remarkable contributions to the field of Computer Science.

Computer Science Education Week is a call to action. It is a way for us to promote equity in the field of Computer Science. We celebrate Grace Hopper and all the other individuals who dedicated their lives to Computer Science each year. The students we teach today might be the next great innovator.

Admiral "Amazing Grace" Hopper

Hour of Code Professional Development

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Throughout November, the Instructional Facilitators of Computer Science held professional development sessions at schools throughout the county and at the AWS Think Big Space, located inside J. Lupton Simpson Middle School.

During each session, teachers could learn more about the robotics and programs available at each school. They could receive hands-on instruction with our facilitators during break-out sessions and utilize the AWS Think Big Space equipment to design activities to bring back to their schools for Computer Science Education Week.

Computer Science Education Week 2022

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During the week of December 5-9, teachers and students in Loudoun County celebrated Computer Science and Computational Thinking by participating in Hour of Code activities, unplugged coding, robotics, Minecraft Education Edition, and so much more!

Thanks to the collaborative planning efforts of Abby Spessard and Amy Stelly, each day of Computer Science Week had a specific focus. From Google Meets with local business partners to High School CS Helpers, students across the county had multiple opportunities to engage in Computer Science.

AWS Think Big Space Open House

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On December 8, the AWS Think Big Space, located inside J. Lupton Simpson Middle School, opened its door to staff and students. As part of Loudoun County's continued focus on integrating Computer Science, this unique educational space will encourage students to extend their learning of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) disciplines beyond the classroom. It will also serve as a training hub for educators throughout Northern Virginia.

Supervisor Grzeda Wins NVTC Award

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On December 6, Computer Science Supervisor Nick Grzeda was awarded the 2022 Tech 100 NextGen Leader Award from the Northern Virginia Technology Council. This award is given to individuals that are driving tech innovation, implementing new solutions, and leading growth.

In his write-up about Mr. Grzeda, Grant Schafer, Supervisor of Community Connections, had this to say, "Not only has Mr. Grzeda positively impacted the school division in terms of broadening our instructional scope, vision, and course pathways for students, but he has done so in a way where both he and his team are cherished, welcomed into schools, and are thanked daily by staff for enhancing the educational opportunities and enrichment of our overall division."

We are very proud of Mr. Grzeda for all of his hard work and dedication to making sure every Loudoun County student has equitable access to educational technology to further their learning.

Elementary School Computer Science Spotlight

Christa Lynch: Third Grade Teacher at Banneker Elementary

What unique geographic features can be found around the world? To answer this driving question on the SSGS Performance Assessment, Ms. Lynch’s students researched the continents and created interactive maps. Students used CS First Google to create Scratch projects with a tour guide coded to move around the continent and share information on physical features, tourist attractions, and interesting facts. The students used MaKey MaKey Invention Kits and poster-size maps to make a 3D display to demonstrate their learning.

When asked how she felt about Computer Science integration, Ms. Lynch said, "Integrating Computer Science allows all students to shine and become confident learners. The students are so engaged in learning. I plan to continue integrating Computer Science in social science."

Logan McIntosh: Instructional Facilitator of Technology at Legacy Elementary

Teachers at Legacy Elementary School in Brambleton have been finding authentic ways to integrate Computer Science across their curriculum this year. From LEGOs to cyber safety and beyond, staff are utilizing their resources to deepen their students’ understanding of the curriculum, increase student engagement, and highlight the 5Cs (Creator, Communicator, Collaborator, Critical Thinker, and Contributor). Each month, grade levels come together to plan at least one opportunity for their students to engage within the next month that integrates Computer Science.

As teachers and facilitators search for ideas, they turn to their “#trending” wall. This data wall lives in the Creation Station, also home to collaborative CS planning meetings. Divided into six categories, ‘posts’ highlight photos of integrated projects, a brief description, and the C that the lesson focuses on.

When asked about the big-picture goal for this resource, Mr. McIntosh said, “After the school year, this will serve as a valuable vertical alignment resource. Grade levels will utilize this to plan future learning experiences that build off the previous grade level’s accomplishments.”

When asked about the reason behind spending time vertically aligning the work with Computer Science after the school year, McIntosh shared, “This ensures students are provided opportunities to demonstrate their learning at an appropriate pace and complexity (of the tool or software).” It is apparent that teachers, students, and support at Legacy Elementary understand that Computer Science integration is all about meeting teachers and students where they are with their learning and pushing them to constantly grow their knowledge.”

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Beth Fisher and the Fifth Grade Team at Little River Elementary

The 5th-grade students at Little River Elementary learned about Westward Expansion as part of their reading and social science units. During this project, students researched their topic individually, then had to synthesize the information they learned to create a meaningful presentation. Students used CS First Scratch and Makey Makey to create an interactive poster they showcased and shared with 2nd- and 3rd-grade students, teachers, and administrators.

When asked what they liked about this project, Ms. Sophia Ra stated, “It was interesting to see the students collaborate on a topic and make decisions about what information was important to include in their presentation.” Ms. Sara Hempson said, “I liked how it helped teach students to identify the main idea in a much more interesting way. The students took more ownership and pride in their projects using coding and Makey Makey computer science tools.”

Middle School Computer Science Spotlight

Amy Glancey: 6th Grade Science Teacher at Harper Park Middle School

"I wanted to try to do something new and different and completely out of my comfort zone with my students!! When I saw the opportunity to incorporate Computer Science and coding into a lesson I was working on with my students (for the solar system shared in a recent Computer Science newsletter), I jumped at the opportunity! This was not only an opportunity that is important and relevant in today's changing world but one that provided some voice and choice in students’ creations! Although I was a bit uncomfortable since it was something completely new to me, and I didn't fully know how to teach it just yet, my students jumped on the opportunity and helped to teach me! I loved that the students got to help teach me and could do more than what I had asked of them because they were so engaged and having so much fun! It was a wonderful experience, and I look forward to doing more!!"

Amanda Vaughn: 6th Grade Math Teacher at Seneca Ridge Middle School

For this Computer Science integrated activity, students worked in groups of 3 to 4 people to order fractions, decimals, and percentages in ascending or descending order. Each student was given an individual work page to show their thinking and worked with their group to problem-solve the correct order of the numbers. The groups were then tasked with programming the iRobot Root to move on the grid to show the correct order of the numbers. The classroom had five different stations for groups to work at throughout the classroom, including magnetic whiteboards and large tabletop areas.

When asked to reflect on this activity, Mrs. Vaughn said, "When I was approached about incorporating Computer Science into my classroom, I was hesitant because of my knowledge related to technology and programming. I am so pleased that I took on this personal challenge to allow my students to expand their knowledge. My Math 6 students were confident with programming the robots and challenged themselves on varying levels within the program. The students needed to incorporate different aspects of mathematical thinking when programming, including distance and angles, and understand math vocabulary. They utilized creative thinking, collaboration, and communication to work together in groups to solve math problems."

Elementary Computer Science Resources

Middle School Computer Science Resources