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. Groups make a "rapid" prototype of an innovative idea and share it. 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.
Students will be able to:
- Communicate with classmates about computing innovations in their lives.
- Describe positive and negative effects of computing innovations.
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.
- One thing that makes this class unique is that you have to invent solutions to problems and create things all the time, both alone and with others. Everyone has a unique and creative perspective they bring to the table.
- Let's start by seeing how creative we can be right now!
Prompt: What's something that you know a lot about? Something that you could teach somebody?
If students need help coming up with ideas, share these tips:
- This doesn't have to be a subject in school - it very well might not be.
- As a person, as an individual who is living and breathing in this world, there is something that you probably know a lot about - maybe you feel like you know more about than most people. What is that thing?"
Discuss: With a partner or a small group:
- introduce yourself
- explain the thing you know a lot about
- tell the group something interesting about that topic
What you're trying to do here is get students to state something that they are interested in, but also know a lot about - something they might have insights into.
A big part of students' enthusiasm for sharing will come from your enthusiasm and genuine interest in getting to know them.
Students might need prodding: there is something that makes them interesting and unique. Something they like to do, have interest in, read about, have some expertise in, a hidden talent.
Identify impacts and prototype an innovation
- 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 determine how innovative we can be. We're going to do something called "rapid prototyping."
- "Prototype" is a fancy word that means a simple sketch of an idea or model for something new. It's the original drawing from which something real might be built or created.
Brainstorm Technological Innovation
Do This: Either as individuals or in small groups,
- Write down a way that technology is used with or affects the area or thing you talked about before in Getting Started. If working with a group, you can discuss this.
- Next, we're going to brainstorm. Write down or discuss with others a way that technology might be improved to make it better, faster, and/or easier to use, or a creative new technology that might help solve some problem within that area.
- If working with a group, everyone in the group should make suggestions for any of the areas of interest in your group.
We've just brainstormed about some technology ideas at the table. Now, let's develop that idea with a rapid prototype -- something to quickly convey the idea.
- If working in groups, have each group nominate an idea that they've discussed that they think would be the most interesting to everyone else in the class.
- The rapid prototype is a way to quickly convey the idea. Groups can sketch out their idea on a poster, or flesh out their idea in a different format.
- Keep things quick. If a group is worried about not being innovative enough, remind them that very small ideas can have big consequences. People once thought it was ridiculous that you would want to send a short text message to another person over a phone.
- Alternatively, a group may have a great idea that they want to spend more time on. They can do that later. For now, just remind them it's a rapid prototype.
- Once the prototypes are ready, share them with other students. You can put posters on a wall to let students survey them, have each group present their prototype, or otherwise share the prototype in a way that's convenient for the format they've used.
Welcome Students to the Course
Take this opportunity to explain the importance of bringing individual interests and perspectives to this course. 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.
- We are just starting this class, but you all bring passions and knowledge about things you care about. And whatever those things are it is likely (if not inevitable) that they involve computing technology in some way.
- Everyone is unique, but we're all in this together.
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.
Assessment: Check For Understanding
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.
Prompt: What are your own strategies and insights about how to learn best? And, how are they similar or different to the ones that you just heard about from other students?
Students can discuss in small groups and then share out with the whole class. It's ok if at this point students don't have an answer to this prompt.
- CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2017): 3B-IC-27