WHS Computer Science Essentials Course

Washington High School Offering New Project Lead The Way Computer Science Essentials Course
Posted on 01/28/2020
WHS Computer Science Essentials CourseWashington High School is offering a new course for the 2019-20 school year in computer science. The course is titled Project Lead the Way CSE, which stands for Computer Science Essentials.

Tim Zumsteg is the instructor of the course, which is offered during two class periods at WHS.

According to Zumsteg, the course is a great entry point for students who think they are interested in computer science and acts as a support to those who already have experience in this field.

“Students seem to really enjoy this class. It is unlike other courses because it is 100 percent project based and students get to develop things that they are interested in,” Zumsteg said. “The course is set up to have specific activities and directions for students to work through first, and then leave the projects open for creativity.”

In this course, students explore many different topics in computer science and gain experience through activities, research and projects. Topics covered include mobile app development, robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and text-based programming. Students also research different professions in the computer science field, helping them gain knowledge of different career opportunities.

PLTW Computer Science Essentials starts off with block-based programming. This benefits students who have never had experience with programming and are just getting used to the formatting and logic.

The software the class uses in PLTW CSE includes MIT App Inventor, VEX Robotics, and Amazon Web Services. MIT App Inventor is a block-based programming software that allows students to click and drag different pieces of code together to make a working mobile application.

These applications that students develop are tested and deployed on an Android tablet. VEX Robotics is also a block-based program, but can double as text-based programming. In this unit, students program self-driving vehicles to navigate a map. Students also get experience with vision sensors. Vision sensors can view and recognize different colors and react differently according to the color.

As the course develops and the students gain experience with the logic behind programming, they will eventually work on text-based programming. Text-based programming in Computer Science Essentials is done on Amazon Web Services – a cloud service. During this unit, students get experience with the syntax of programming and develop a more custom product.

Computer Science Essentials
Pictured are students in Tim Zumsteg’s fifth-hour Project Lead the Way Computer Science Essentials class at Washington High School.