Computer Science

Lower School teacher working with students on technological device

Our students build, design and code in courses that focus on problem-solving, critical thinking, personal expression and collaboration.

Curriculum is designed with an understanding of research that PK-12 computer science sustains student engagement in postsecondary education and into well professional careers. Computer science isn’t just a timely discipline but one that also resonates with Blake’s mission, core values and commitment to pluralism.

Lower School Engineering & Programming

Our youngest learners begin with a maker-style philosophy of tinkering and creation and are later introduced to programming as a tool for creative design and problem solving. Teachers layer in new concepts each year to guide students through more complex problems and designs. Students learn about digital citizenship in kindergarten and expand their knowledge each year, learning how to be safe with technology and their online presence.

Engineering principles and the language of computer programming inform curricula across all elementary grade levels. For example:

  • Kindergarten through second grade students:
    • learn programming environments like MIT's Scratch, EdScratch.
    • use Lego WeDo and Edison robots to move and respond to external stimuli.
  • Third through fifth grade students:
    • learn programming environments like Scratch Jr and EdBlocks.
    • test theories of engineering and programming by creating their own amusement rides and Keva Brick structures.
    • use Lego Mindstorms to design and command mechanisms, including robots that walk, talk and respond to external stimuli.

Middle School Computer Science

Students take one quarter of computer science each year in grades 6-8, learning to program through three different domains. In all their courses, they are encouraged to think of programming as a medium for creative expression and problem solving, see themselves as software engineers, examine the impact of online information and become critical consumers of content.

  • Grade 6 students:
    • consider “what makes a computer a computer?”
    • learn about the design cycle as they program in a game-based JavaScript environment.
  • Grade 7 students:
    • focus on web design and what it means to have a digital presence online.
    • use HTML and CSS to create websites about subjects of their own choosing.
  • Grade 8 students:
    • focus on app design and what it means to design a product to help a community.
    • have the option to take a quarter-long elective course in Artificial Intelligence, where they discuss AI ethics and develop machine learning models.

Middle School students also encounter computer science concepts in other contexts. For example:

  • In science and co-curricular programs, students program and design solutions to vexing programs.
  • The Middle School Robotics Team participates in the FIRST LEGO League competition, building and programming robots to solve real-world problems.

Upper School Computer Science

Upper School computer science courses are designed to offer opportunities to students of varying interests and experience. An “activity-before-concept, concept-before-vocabulary” approach means students explore an idea through mental and physical models to create a shared experience. Then they synthesize that problem-solving technique or big idea in the context of computer science.

These courses are electives for students of all grades and are offered on a bi-yearly rotation.

  • Intro to Computer Science and AP Computer Science Principles:
    • explores a breadth of subjects including data storage, the internet, big data and
    • programming considers computer science in a global context, analyzing its societal, economic and cultural impacts
  • Intro to Computer Programming, AP Computer Science:
    • takes a deep dive into programming through languages including Swift, Python, and Java
    • offers students the opportunity to analyze real-world problems that can be solved computationally and then determine how to articulate those problems in a way a computer can evaluate
  • Software Design:
    • explores the iterative design process, taking a concept from idea to prototype to product
    • offers students the opportunity to collaborate with local business partners to develop software to support their needs

In addition to the courses offered for credit, Upper School students also have the opportunity to participate in:

  • The FIRST robotics program
  • Engineering electives in the Science Department
  • Maker-Space development and design