Computer Science

Middle School

Computational technologies have significantly transformed modern society in many ways, both obvious and subtle. Few areas of life remain untouched. Living, working and contributing to society increasingly demands effective command of information technologies. In response,  the Computer Science Department (course descriptions follow) at St. John's aims to help each student:

  1. Think computationally by learning to understand, analyze, and solve problems by applying a variety of strategies appropriate for computational technologies;
  2. Collaborate effectively with others in the course of solving significant problems;
  3. Program a computer and organize information effectively with one;
  4. Understand how computer hardware and communication systems (such as the web) are organized;
  5. Use information technology in an ethical and responsible way.

Grade 6

In sixth grade computer science, students focus on two important tasks: developing the ability to touch type and the creativity to solve basic problems.  While it doesn’t seem like a great achievement, touch typing serves to move into the “automatic” section of the brain the basic skill of keyboarding, freeing the mind to focus on the task at hand when a student is writing. Cognitive automaticity in this area pays big dividends in future years. Concurrently, students learn how to construct a simple program and implement problem solutions using a block-based visual programming language.

Grade 7

In seventh grade computer science, students learn to work collaboratively to tackle complex problems that none of them could individually solve. Robotics provides students the opportunity to design and create artifacts that none of them individually could have conceived. It also requires them to learn collaborative skills to allow them to productively work together. Similarly, modern software design requires that people work in concert to achieve a specified goal. By working on robot and application design, students can learn essential skills that allow them to solve problems collectively.

Grade 8

In eighth grade computer science, students expand their understanding of algorithms and explore some of the ethical issues involved in information technology. They explore computing’s impact on human culture for good and for ill, and they look at how their use of technology shapes their community and the world. By the end of the course, they also have deepened their understanding of algorithms (methods of doing things) and are able to assess the merits of choosing different algorithms to solve the same problem.
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