Category Archives: CS as a Science

Simon Says – Recursion!

Spotted this today – they are reissuing Simon Says. The interface reminds me a lot of the Siftables that were designed at MIT.
Not only are these just plain awesome, the old Simon Says game is a great way t teach the concept of recursion. Can you say QUEUE?
 
Created by Rebecca Dovi
I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Our Regularly Scheduled Program

I am gearing up for the coming school year. Kids report back the day after Labor Day.

While searching for some videos to start off the year I found this gem: Rear Admiral Grace Hopper on David Letterman

Seriously worth a look. She gives a great explanation of nano seconds, and as always is absolutely charming.

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Obama Talks Computer Science

OK – this is an oldie but goodie. Then Senator Obama:

We are finishing the year in CS Principles by programming arrays and looking at data. Here Obama is being interviewed at Google. The question starts “What is the most efficient way to sort…”

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

IBM Video – Computer Science in Medicine

Found this video on the IBM Website…a lot of it applies to Computer Science. It’s the Wild Duck video Zip ahead to minute 7 and there is a great 2.5 minute clip about a researcher using the data collected from computers in the NICU to help premie health.

 

So, why this particular video?
Part of our job is to show computer science in context. Showing that computer science is about more than games, but about using computation to solve real human problems helps attract a variety of kids to our classes.
While you are at it, the 100×100 video is the history of IBM’s first 100 years, but is a good history of computers video also.
Created by Rebecca Dovi
I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

CS captures collar bomb suspect

Computers save the day

This is the case from Australia about the Teenaged girl who was locked in a collar bomb. As I read the article it struck me how much computer science was a part of capturing a suspect. Deleted files on a usb drive, locations where the email account was created and accessed…it really was the digital fingerprint that led to an arrest.

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Computer Science Unplugged

While looking for some computer science related videos for the last week of school I found this: cs unplugged video.

65 minutes of awesome. Not only does it have some great explanation of computer science, it shows some great modeling of how to use the cs unplugged techniques. If you have never tried cs unplugged you really need to give this a look.

There is a list of shorted clips here.

My favorite quote: “Computer Science, it’s just science, computers are just the tool”.

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Computer Science and The Digital Native Myth

From the Washington Post this morning: Survey finds gap in Internet access between rich, poor students
So the basic summary – half of students from upper income families have Internet access at home, only 3% of students from poor families have Internet access.

No surprise there. I have students that do not have electricity or running water at home. Food is an issue. It is hard to imagine that Internet is a possibility.

So what does that mean for us in Computer Science education?

As educators we have to challenge the assumptions about digital natives with the push for 21st century learning. We’ve have several readings in our professional development recently about digital natives and how they are different from us “digital immigrant” educators.

All true, as far as it goes. Some of my students have had access to technological devices since they were toddlers. They are comfortable with using technology to solve problems. They live in a world with constant access to humanity’s  largest storehouse of information. They have never lacked for a fact or access to information. They also do not naturally question a lot of the information they receive.

But that is only some of my students. A real wall has grown over the past five years between the students with access and without.

And that is not to say that project based learning is only good for some students. It is a natural way to teach in computer science classes. I have been doing some version of it since the mid 90’s when I started teaching computer science. It has been sort of funny that it now has a name.

But what other assumptions about digital natives are we carrying into our classrooms? As technology has shifted from something we visit to something embedded in the lives of many of our students it is too easy to assume every student in instantly comfortable in our labs.

The access issue needs to inform everything from how we recruit to the examples we use in class. I know I am guilty of using smart phones often as an example of something in the “real world”. A real world that only exists for a section of my students. It is probably about like trying to explain English grammar by comparing it to Japanese.

And the question then becomes, is computer science really for everyone?

I say yes, and it is something we may need to fight for. It is easy to attract the kids with access. Really, how hard is it to convince a kid that spent last summer at  robotics camp that computer science might be interesting?

For the rest of the kids computer science classes are the one chance they have of really climbing over that wall. We offer an Ellis Island opportunity for the “digital immigrants” in our classes.

So do we do the easy thing, or the right thing?

Of course I am crazy enough to think that computer science should replace the traditional geometry class for all students. But we can debate that one another day.

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

SIGCSE

I just got back from SIGCSE 2012 As always they put on an amazing event hosting over 1200 computer science educators.

My “Yarn-Saver” sock pattern

It is a bit odd being a high school teacher at these events. Our world differs so much from the  college arena. A great example is the obsession with posters. In high school this means busy work festooned with bubble letters and glitter. I can only assume the college level posters have a higher purpose.

I attended because of the CS Principles Pilot. Plugging along on the project this year feels isolating at times. I worry that I am not doing this correctly. This fades when I get a chance to talk to the other piloters, so it was great to have a mini-reunion. SIGCSE has renewed my energy in building my pilot course, along with a huge to do list.

Goal: End the isolation and get surrounded by lots of great CS teachers, local and elbow to elbow.

Luckily attending SIGCSE also means sitting in on other great presentations. My personal favorite was the paper presented by Michelle Craig about knitting pattern’s and program tracing. My own knitting bias aside, it was a very interesting take on how new programmers acquire language. For instance the repeat-until structure is mroe intuitively obvious to a novice that the typical while structure we introduce.

I’d also add that we create knitting patterns to create artifacts. This can get lost for new programmers. No one wants my dusty pile of knitting magazines, but  most of my family and friends appreciate the socks they describe. Or at least they pretend to, and some days that’s all that counts.

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Exploring Computer Science in Virginia

This past summer CodeVA  partnered with Code.org  trained 29 teachers across the state in the Exploring Computer Science  course.

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One of the trickiest things in implementing new classes is figuring out what state course number it maps to, especially since in Virginia Computer Science can sit in either the math or career and technical ed departments.

The following courses are the most common for housing the ECS course. As the state department of education handles last year’s legislation allowing computer science to count as a science credit this list may expand.

Course Mappings to Virginia Course Codes:

ECS Course Mappings for VA CTE:

ECS Course Mappings Math:

Rebecca Dovi
As CEO (chief educational officer) of CodeVA Rebecca is responsible for training teachers and developing computer science curriculum as CodeVA works to bring computer science education to all Virginia students.