What is Computer Science?
Despite the availability of computers in school, the most significant aspect of computing has been held back from most students: learning how to create with computers (i.e. Computer Science). Instead of being passive consumers of computing technologies, students should become active producers and creators.
Computer Science is the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society.
In our digital age, computers are both the paint and the paintbrush. Computer Science education creates the artists.
What is Coding?
Coding (also called computer programming) is writing a set of instructions on what tasks a computer needs to perform. Some educators and experts are calling it the new literacy - a subject so important that every child needs to know the basics to excel in our rapidly changing world.
In STEM, code is the language of creativity. Without knowing how to code, one would be reliant on tools created by others.
The Briarlake Coding Club is a club of 4th and 5th graders who are interested in understanding and applying computer science concepts, learning how to code, and writing code to solve problems. The club will meet once a week after school. Each student is expected to:
- Have average computer mouse/typing skills
- Attend each session
- Be a collaborative team member and problem solver for team activities
- Be creative and Have fun!
During these sessions, we will connect the club members to computer science in the same way that it touches our lives - everywhere. This club is run by Liberty Garcia (mom to Elise and Max Garcia) & Richard Wright (dad to Aidan Wright).
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Recap] School Year 2016-2017 Session 2
This session ran from February 24 to May 19, 2017
This session presented us with some unique challenges, as there are returning members from Session 1 and newcomers. We had to make sure that the newcomers get the basics of Computer Science while providing enough challenge and fun to returning Session 1 members. Personally it had been tough to reach the school on time every Fri because of the unexpected I85 collapse. BUT WE MADE IT! We will take our learnings and successes this year so next fall/winter the club will be more exciting, purposeful and fun for our kids.
The club picked up where we left off from Course 3 and did a refresher/introduction to computational thinking concepts:
- algorithms - list of steps you follow to complete a task
- abstraction - pulling out specific differences to make one solution work for multiple problems
- decomposition - breaking problems down into smaller pieces
- pattern-matching - finding similarities between things
We were also able to try new activities!
- A few kids wrote code in Python to draw various shapes on an 8x8 RGB led matrix using a RaspBerry Pi and SenseHat. RGB (short for red-green-blue) is a system for representing the colors to be used on a computer display. Red, green, and blue can be combined in various proportions to obtain any color in the visible spectrum. This system is used a lot by UI (user interface) developers. Because it has been a huge hit, the club will work on getting some RaspBerry Pi’s and SenseHat’s for next year!
- A group of kids had lots of fun with Play Lab (a tool in code.org to build simple games using blocks) - watch out for the Coding Club website for some of the games that our kids have built.
- A group of kids coded in Python in playing a game called CodeCombat available thru Hour of Code.
- Introduction to bubble sort algorithm by showing them a video of a Hungarian folk dance and played a simple card game to reinforce the concept.
- We talked about the story of Sofia Tomov and how real world problems can be solved by computer science.
Another success story to share is that, apart from the club members, all 4th graders have been introduced to code.org with the help of their 4th-grade teachers. You will also see computer science in our 2017 Summer Academic Challenge - I hope your entire family will have fun with the activities we picked!
Lastly, please keep an eye on the PTA coding club page for these updates and more coding resources.
It has been a fun journey for us, I hope it had been for the kids. Have a great summer!
Members (* consistent coders from Session 1)
- Aaron Gerstle*
- Aidan Wright*
- Amanda Beckwith*
- Casey Beckwith*
- Davis Morton
- Elise Garcia*
- Giovanni Silvestri*
- Haaven Siye*
- Hannah Choy
- Hebist Abitew*
- Ivan Feldman*
- Jack Hilyard*
- Jackson Holt
- Jacynda Thornhill
- Jaden Hwang*
- Janila Hernandez Benitez*
- Mauro Fontes*
- McKenna Smith
- Nahum Betru
- Pearl Dickerson*
- Preshika Chhetri
- Rand Musawi
- Ryan Becker
- Samara Thompson*
- Sienna Beelner
- Troy Butler
- Vincent Schubert
[Recap] School Year 2016-2017 Session 1
This session ran from December 16, 2016 to January 24, 2017 with 31 club participants. Here are some highlights from the session:
- The club start date coincided with Computer Science Education Week, an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in Computer Science. CS Ed Week is held in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906). The club members completed an Hour Of Code with Minecraft.
- The club has focused on the following aspects of computational thinking: decomposition (break a problem down into smaller pieces), pattern-matching (finding similarities between things), algorithm (a list of steps you can follow to finish a task)
- The club has solved mazes and drew shapes using loops, step by step navigation and problem analysis to arrive at a solution as efficiently as possible.
- The kids did a lot of math - drawing shapes require measuring angles and steps with precision.
- We gave small gifts to reward consistent coders - those that demonstrated patience and perseverance in learning and implementing these concepts.
- We watched a 5 min video of a 12-year-old boy who built mobile apps and formed an app club at his school to help other kids build and share their creations. We asked the kids what do they need in order to learn and achieve more; and we heard very insightful answers - volunteers, educators, and imagination.
- We introduced the kids to Arduino - we have setup a quick demo of the use of code to turn on an LED light using capacitive sensing. Elise Garcia & Grace Yu also answered some questions from their fellow club members about their winning entry to the 2017 DSCD tech fair.
- Kids were introduced to Python thru a simple turtle race game! Below is a sample of what one of the kids finished (click the play button):
- Aaron Gerstle
- Aidan Wright
- Amanda Beckwith
- Ava Waters
- Benjamin Alemayehu
- Bobby Jackson II
- Caddock Carter
- Casey Beckwith
- Devin Onate
- Elise Garcia
- Erika Kato
- Fletcher Courney-Long
- Giovanni Silvestri
- Grace Yu
- Haaven Siye
- Hebist Abitew
- Hunter Steele
- Hunter West
- Ivan Feldman
- Jack Hilyard
- Jaden Hwang
- Janila Hernandez Benitez
- Kayden Henry
- Lucas Lopez
- Mauro Fontes
- Pearl Dickerson
- Ryan Oliver
- Samara Thompson
- Sebastian Binuya Huot
- Starr Haynes
- Stella Lopez