Overview

Welcome to Computer Science Principles! The first lesson is about getting students excited about the course and connecting their own personal interests to computer science. Students are asked to share something they know a lot about and teach it to a small group. For the Wrap Up, students watch a brief video about computing innovations, and the lesson ends with students answering a brief prompt about what "computer science" means to them.

Vocabulary

Goals

Students will be able to:

Purpose

This activity plants the initial seed for students to think about the ways in which they might be able to solve some problems relevant to their lives with technological innovations. The AP CS Principles framework describes 6 Computational Thinking Practices that need to be evident in the course. This first lesson is more about beginning to engage with those practices - beginning to think, act, and behave like computer scientists. In particular, the practices in which students should be engaged in this lesson are:

Resources

Getting Started

Collaboration is very important in coding. Computer programmers often work in groups to complete a project and meet a goal. Every person, just like on any team, brings certain strengths.

  1. Think about something you could teach to someone. It doesn't have to be something from school. Any topic you like and feel you know a lot about is great. In the format of your choice, write down this topic.
  2. Next, write down how you might teach someone about this topic. If you are working on this lesson in a class or with a group, take turns each talking about and explaining your topic, or "area of expertise!"

Activity

People seem to say that technology is all around us and that it affects everything we do. Is that true? Technological innovation is about recognizing a problem that needs to be solved, or recognizing that something needs improving and then building a tool to solve it. As a class we're going to see how innovative we can be.

In computer programming we often work as a group just like this. We collaborate and brainstorm and try to figure out how technology might solve a problem or make something easier and more efficient. We each bring our own interests, perspective, and skills to programming!

Welcome Students to the Course

Take this opportunity to explain the importance of bringing individual interests and perspectives to this course. Students are not only encouraged to find areas of personal interest in this course, it is actually mandated as part of the Performance Tasks. From day one, students should be thinking about how to apply the principles they learn to their own lives, and hopefully they will be excited to do so. Consider some of the following remarks to contextualize this activity and build excitement about the rest of the year.

Wrap Up

Next, we're going to listen to a video that talks about how technology affects every area of our lives. After the video, students will complete a short reflection activity

Reflection: Starting Out in Computer Science

Computer science has changed the way we communicate with each other, make art and movies, grow food, and even treat illnesses. Everyone can learn computer science and make a difference.

Quotes from Students

Still, we understand that taking a computer science course can be difficult at first. Here are a few student quotes describing their strategies and tips for taking this course. Please read the quotes carefully and respond to the prompt below.

       "At the start of the class I worried that I was different from the other students. I 
        wasn't sure I fit in – I worried that I couldn't do it and that the teacher and other 
        students would look down on me. A few days after I started, I realized that almost 
        everyone who takes the class isn't sure if they fit in at first. It's something 
        everyone goes through. Now it seems ironic – everybody feels different at first, when 
        really we're all going through the same thing." -Sofia P. (age 16)

       "I loved this computer science class! I've met some cool people and learned a lot. But 
        it was a difficult transition. The first few days I was intimidated and not sure why I 
        should learn computer science. Why would I need it? But then we talked in class about 
        things I'm interested in, like music and design, and I realized that I can learn how to 
        do cool new things. I had the wrong picture in my head about CS, it's actually very 
        creative! I just had to be patient and find ways to connect the class to what I really 
        care about." -Jasmin D. (age 17)

       "I didn't have any experience with code, and I worried that I was not prepared for this 
        class. Other students did some programming at home or in summer camps. On my first day, 
        I was so nervous about getting bad grades and looking stupid. But then, I started to 
        feel better – I talked with other students and enjoyed the class more. I became more 
        comfortable asking for help when I had a problem. It turned out that the students with 
        CS experience had the same issues as me! Hah, it took some time, but now I really feel 
        like I belong in CS class." -Sam J. (age 17)

Reflect and Summarize

Now consider the above strategies and insights about how to learn best and respond to the prompt below.

Please write a short paragraph in whatever format you choose. Don't worry about spelling, grammar, or how well written it is. You may require students to complete it, but students should not be graded on their responses; it should be clear that they are free to write anything they want, and any amount short or long.

Assessment

Extended Learning

Standards Alignment