COMPUTER SCIENCE & ENGINEERING
The Lower School technology curriculum is designed to provide our students with a safe environment where each boy can develop the necessary technological skills to thrive in the future. Through their early years at Browning, every student has the opportunity to explore and develop their computational thinking, interest in robotics, and their basic understanding of programming, engineering and design. We also focus on building the boys’ basic technological concepts and operations, like appropriate use of devices, digital literacy, and touch typing. Outside of the technology lab, our students use technology in their classrooms where the tools enrich, reinforce, and extend their grade-level curriculum. When students finish 4th grade, we want them to be creatively confident, problem solvers, and innovative thinkers who are ready to deeply explore the implications and applications of technology in their life.
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In Kindergarten we investigate technology as imagination machines rather than replacements for what exists. We ask three big questions to help guide inquiry through play, tinkering, and hands-on tasks. What safe choices can I make? How do I fix what’s broken? What do I do with an idea? ‘Unplugged’ activities, such as program the teacher, help students understand sequence and logic. The boys fix circuits in experiments using lemon batteries and conductive dough. We also practice reteaching what choices are safe and how to express an idea using stop-animation projects made on the iPad with Scratch Jr.
In first grade this semester, the boys focus on the fundamentals of the iPad, laptop, computational thinking and computer aided design. Students continue their understanding of computational thinking and begin to develop and test engineering and programming skills with visual block applications. We engineer LEGO robots and complex machines to help make work easier.
In second grade the boys start learning the basics of programming with visual, block commands. They use Scratch, a kid-friendly language developed by MIT, to create animations. Now students are excited about expressing their interests and creativity with Scratch animations and games. The boys use CS First to create their own Scratch account and the Google program can be used on their own time to dive into different coding projects that match their own interests.
In third grade the boys continue learning the basics of programming with LEGO Mindstorms. The students learn troubleshooting and logical thinking skills. In a team building exercise, the students learn to collectively build their own robot. In addition, they use code.org, a computer science driven website that continues to test and develop their knowledge of programming.
IIn the first semester the boys start orientation for our 1:1 Chromebook program. Orientation includes creating Google Docs and Slides for class presentation, navigating Math Buddies and Front Row Education. They also started programming with Scratch, a visual block-based platform, to create games and animations. In the second semester they start learning the basics of programming with text commands. They use Codesters, a Python-based platform, to create games and animations.