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Computer Science Education Week 2021

GA celebrated Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) across all divisions during the first full week of December. CSEdWeek is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science, advocate for equity in computer science education, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners to the field.

Upper School Computer Science students visited Lower and Middle School classrooms to teach lessons:

·       For GA’s youngest learners in PreK and Kindergarten, the students worked on their sequencing skills by doing a Happy Maps exercise; first navigating the big kids from point A to point B step-by-step, and then doing the same on a grid using arrows. This is the foundation of algorithmic thinking.

·       In Grades 1 through 4, students combined poetry with code, using functions to set the mood and tone for a poem through color, sound, and other stylistic elements, and then conditionals to have certain effects happen when a line in the poem was reached.

·       Fifth Grade students used a tool called The Teachable Machine by Google. Here they taught a “machine” to recognize certain images, set up an appropriate reaction, and then had the machine respond to new input—the essence of Machine Learning.

·       In the sixth grade, students got a taste of text-coding by creating visual elements using Processing.

·       Grades 7 and 8 participated in open houses in the afternoon where they could come to Upper School Computer Science classes to observe what the students were working on and to ask questions.

The Upper School was pleased to welcome three visitors who spoke during Flex time. The first was Dr. Hank Korth, Ph.D. P’09 ’12, Professor of Computer Science at Lehigh University who spoke to students about collegiate Computer Science. The second was Shira Wein ’15 who talked about Natural Language Processing and its broad application to the world around us. Finally, Hannah Fried ’16 talked about the details behind Cryptocurrency.

“The purpose of the week at GA is to celebrate Computer Science both as an academic field and as a connective element,” said Jason Oswald, GA Computer Science Department Chair. “If students deepen their understanding of the tone and mood that words provide to a poem by doing a programming exercise, that’s great. If other students engage with programming because it gives them a venue to express themselves, that’s also great. Perhaps students learned that Computer Science is more than they thought it was, satisfied or awakened some curiosity, or even saw how the previously feared sentence diagram is actually an invaluable tool that helps machines understand what we mean when we communicate. All of those are valuable results from the week, and so is continuing to develop GA’s culture of computing.”

More photos can be viewed here.