EHS students, are you interested in Computer Science, but not really sure what you need to know to get started? Jason Clevinger, who teaches the course at EHS, gives some insight into what this class is like, how it opens doors to high paying careers, and the fact that you don’t need prior experience to develop these important skills.
Computer Science is an entry level class where we literally try to learn the basics of everything technology. We start by taking about a computer and looking at the individual pieces of hardware and determining their functions. I have the students label and try to assemble the tower back together to see if it works properly. From there, we discuss Operating Systems. The OS is the main software of any computer, so we study the history of Windows, Mac, and Linux systems and compare and contrast each one. Students create posters with screen shots of each one and see how they have improved and evolved into what we have today. Relating pictures to these and seeing each interface really helps close the gap on how each of these works.
Once we learn OS and Hardware/Software, we begin coding using Alice 3.3, Code Combat on code.org, and Kodu. All are free versions of introduction to coding software, but it gets them started off well. They use these programs to drag and drop commands on a beginner’s level rather than writing the code from scratch. This is usually where the biggest learning curve takes place because the students see the entire realm of the code take effect. Some students do not take the course to learn code, but once they learn the basics, they find out how interesting it really is. When learning to develop code, it changes students’ perception of thought and could allow them to use the critical thinking skills in other classes as well.
I am self-taught in computer science so that is why I am so passionate about it. Coding allows you to create your own path. You can literally be as imaginative and creative as possible, as long as you are implementing the correct code and it runs properly. Students have the full reign to create their own program or game in my class which is sometimes not the traditional way of thinking. Once they obtain this freedom, they take more pride in their creations. Once I was given that freedom, I knew I had to pass it along and promote it to benefit others.
As far as success stories, I have had multiple students tell me how much they enjoyed my class only because of the learning environment and how helpful the material is. When students think technology, sometimes they don’t see past their own palms, but once we dissect a problem or app and see how it works, they have a new respect for the product. Student feedback is vital to me because it helps get the word to other students about the validity of the class. I can throw any statistic at them that shows growth in the technology or computer science industry, but until they see the opportunities for themselves, it’s not as interesting to them.