College Exploration of Computer Science Principles (for the non-techie)

Length: One Semester
Credit: Occupational Education / University of Washington 5.0 College Credits
Prerequisites: None
Career Pathways: Industry and Technology

Course Description:

In a world that is driven by technology, understanding the fundamentals of computer science is necessary for success no matter what career you choose. Student learning projects in this course will include: how to solve a Rubik’s cube, how information is stored and transferred in computers, how to create a live website for a business, how to read and write computer programs (including mobile apps!), and how to protect oneself from social abuses of information privacy.

This course will give students an introduction to the following “big ideas” of computer science: (1) computing is a creative activity; (2) abstraction reduces information and detail to facilitate focus on relevant concepts; (3) data and information facilitate the creation of knowledge; (4) algorithms are used to develop and express solutions to computational problems; (5) programming enables problem solving, human expression, and creation of knowledge; (6) the internet pervades modern computing; and (7) computing has global impacts.

No prior knowledge of programming or computers is expected–this course is geared toward the non-techie!

Students may opt to earn 5.0 credits at UW through the UW in the High School program, but this is not mandatory.

Course Credit

This course will earn Occupational Education Credit. Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses are designed for students to explore educational pathways and possible future careers through a variety of classroom experiences with an emphasis on obtaining the knowledge and skills necessary to make a successful transition after high school. At Tahoma, students are required to earn at least 1.0 CTE credit during high school.

This course is eligible for University of Washington Credit. Students may elect to take advantage of the opportunity to earn 5.0 UW Credits for this semester course. By registering to be part of the UW in the High School (UWHS) program, students are establishing a permanent UW record. Students will recieve a permanent UW student ID number and any grades they recieve will be recorded on their UW official transcript. Failure to withdraw from the course by the last date may result in a permanent UW grade of 0.0. Students will be treated just as they would were they taking the course onsite–the can get a UW library card, snowboard lift discounts, etc.

The cost to take part in UWHS is $270 + a $35 registration fee — less than 1/3 the cost it would cost to take the course on UW campus!

Grading Policy

Coursework entails readings, computer labs, assignments, projects, weekly quizzes, quick-writes, and participation in lectures and lab sections.

30% Daily Work
30% Projects
20% Exams
5% Quizzes
10% “Why this matters to me”
5% CTE Leadership Points


Students in Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes are expected by the state of Washington to learn and develop leadership skills. In order to facilitate leadership qualities, students will be expected to earn 200 Leadership Points over the course of each semester. Students can earn these points through various activities inside and outside of the classroom. Students will be expected to keep track of their own points and submit the leadership points form at the end of each semester. Details on how to earn points are included on the Leadership Points Document.

Attendance/Tardy Policy

Assisting students in establishing lifelong learning habits of reliability and promptness is an instructional objective of all CTE courses. Progress toward this goal will be measured, at least in part, by tracking students’ attendance. Therefore, a student’s grade or credit in this class may be adversely affected by reason of tardiness or absence.

Almost all learning is done through in-class on-computer work. Missing class can seriously impede a student’s progress in this class.

Getting Unstuck

It is the most common fact in IT that users of a particular technology WILL get stuck. It happens to everyone — nobody is immune. However, one of the most useful skills you may learn from this course is “how to get unstuck.”

In the real world, successful people who find themselves stuck do several things such as:

  1. systematically play around with the technology,
  2. ask a co-worker or friend for help, or
  3. ask an expert for help.

Hopefully you’ll explore all three means to get unstuck in this course. This process is called “debugging” and we’ll talk more about this sort of strategy during the course. Here are some suggestions:

  • Step back. When you first “get stuck,” take a deep breath! Step back for a moment. Look carefully at the work you have just done. Try changing one thing and see what effect it has.
  • Ask a classmate. Try to share ideas about how to figure out the problem rather than telling your classmate the answer. You’ll learn as much by helping others find their mistakes as you will by finding your own.
  • Consult with the Instructor.
    • Tutorial. Come see Ms. Hess before or after school. Come prepared with a specific question in order to make the most of your time.
    • Email help. Email your question with a full explanation of the problem, not just a vague request for help or the answer!

Additional Help

If you or your parents have any questions, feel free to contact me

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