Our newest course: CS Discoveries

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Applications for the 2017-18 CS Discoveries Professional Learning Program have closed.

Our curriculum is available at no cost for anyone, anywhere to teach. If you are still interested in joining in 2018-19, sign up below to be added to our contact list.

What is CS Discoveries?

CS Discoveries is an introductory Computer Science course that empowers students to create authentic artifacts and engage with CS as a medium for creativity, communication, problem solving, and fun. The course will be piloted in Spring 2017, with full rollout Summer 2017.

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A CS course for everyone, designed with equity in mind

CS Discoveries is designed from the ground up to be an accessible and engaging course for all students, regardless of background or prior experience. By providing students opportunities to engage with culturally and personally relevant topics in a wide variety of CS related fields we hope to show all students that CS can be for them.

Made for Makers

We know that students engage differently with real world physical objects than with virtual software, and that the process of making physical artifacts is a powerful tool for fun, engaging, and lasting learning experiences. CS Discoveries has the Maker ethos embedded throughout, providing students the opportunity to see and participate in the physical act of creation alongside the more abstract elements of computer science.

Completing a K-12 pathway

Our new course, CS Discoveries, is being designed to fit naturally between our CS Fundamentals course for K-5 and our CS Principles course for AP/Honors high school students. This allows us to offer districts, teachers and students a complete pathway of courses that build on each other and flow naturally together.

Powerful tools with a high ceiling

CS Discoveries aims to introduce students to tools and programming languages that are accessible for beginners, but which offer plenty of room to grow and create sophisticated projects. Using our App Lab programming environment, students will be able to transition from blocks to typed code at their own pace while learning JavaScript. New improvements to this tool will enable students to build simple animations, stories, or games as well as apps. Students will also develop Maker skills through the study of physical computing on the Arduino platform at a very accessible cost.

Designed for flexible implementation options

CS Discoveries will be designed primarily for students in grades 7-9, so it can be used in middle school or high school. The two semesters spiral upon each other, allowing the course to be taught as a single semester, two sequential semesters, a full-year course, or even integrated into existing technology classes.

Daily lesson plans come with detailed instructions, activity guides, and assessments

Students explore programming concepts through the development of animations and games in Game Lab

Students create prototypes of internet-connected physical computing devices using Adafruit's Circuit Playground board and App Lab

Course Overview

Printable course overview PDF

Computer Science encompasses far more than just coding, and CS Discoveries will provide students with opportunities to explore the many facets of CS, both in terms of how they are personally relevant as well as how they impact society.

Semester 1: CS Discoveries: Exploration and Expression

The first semester of CS Discoveries introduces students to computer science as a vehicle for problem solving, communication, and personal expression. As a whole this semester focuses on the visible aspects of computing and computer science, encouraging students to see where computer science exists around them and how they can engage with it as a tool for exploration and expression.

Unit 1 - Problem Solving: Computers and Logic

Computers are all around us, and for students much of their everyday action is impacted by computing. In the unit students will explore what it means for something to be a computer - what core functionality brings together all these items we think of as computers. Students should know how to use computers effectively - this means being able to navigate a computer and accomplish tasks. Students look at the many things computers allow people to do.

Unit 2 - The Internet: Web Development

Students will find empowerment through the realization that they too can take part in this creation and dissemination of information online by developing their own web pages from scratch using just HTML and CSS. By critically examining the web pages they visit every day, students will start to explore what makes a strong website and then use their new design process to implement parts of those designs.

Unit 3 - Programming: Interactive Games and Animations

Starting off with simple primitive shapes and building up to more sophisticated sprite-based games, students will become familiar with the basic concepts that form the foundation of computer programming. The development of a personalized final project will engage students in design, testing, and iteration as they come to see that failure and debugging are an expected (and valuable) part of the programming process that make your end product better.

Semester 2: CS Discoveries: Innovation and Impact

Where the first semester centers on the immediately observable and personally applicable elements of computer science, the second semester asks students to look outward and explore the impact of computer science on society. Students will see how a thorough user-centered design process produces a better application, how their personal data is collected and used on the web, and they will work with bare circuit boards to see how computers collect input and return output in a variety of ways. Through the entirety of this semester student groups will continue to iterate on and refine a mobile app that integrates everything they’ve learned throughout the course into one capstone project.

Unit 4 - Problem Solving: The Design Process

With the Problem Solving Process as a basis, students will start to look at how user-centered design places _others_ first in approaching the solution to a problem, whether through design of a physical object or a software application. Through several small projects, students will experience an iterative design and testing process that will then be applied to a multi-week group project. In this final project, student teams will identify an audience, investigate their needs, and develop a concept and paper wireframe for an app to serve that audience. With concept and wireframe in hand, teams will then develop an interactive prototype of their apps that they can use to test with actual users, taking feedback to drive further development.

Unit 5 - The Internet: Data and Society

Students will learn what information they leave behind online, and ways to control who has access to their information. In addition students will learn simple ways to collect data and use it to create apps the display the data to the user in visual ways so that they can gain insight into how data that is uninteresting at the individual level can reveal useful information when compiled. Finally, students will return to the app they began in unit 4 to integrate simple data collection.

Unit 6 - Programming: The Internet of Things

By exploring innovative computing devices from a variety of fields, students will explore the essential elements of computer hardware. Using a bare microcontroller board with several integrated sensors and output devices students will learn how software interacts with hardware and they will develop prototypes of physical computing devices. In the final stage of the course student groups will once again return to their capstone apps, this time connecting them with their physical computing boards as a means of input, output, or both.

Get Involved

Try out and give feedback on drafted lessons

We post lesson drafts as soon as they're ready, and are eager to have teachers try them in classrooms and provide feedback. Because the whole course is not finished, this is a good option if you have an existing CS or tech ed class and would like to pick up a few lessons or a unit and integrate it into your existing curriculum.

Apply for professional learning!

If you are interested in joining in 2018-19, sign up below to be added to our contact list. This intensive program is designed to prepare educators to provide high quality instruction based on the CS Discoveries curriculum, tools and approach to students in their classrooms.

Stay up to date on our progress

Want to know when we've posted new lesson drafts and have tools that are ready to experiment with? Sign up for our monthly emails, which contain the latest news and links to beta lesson plans, tools, videos, and other important updates for the CS Discoveries project.

Lesson Drafts

We are releasing drafts of CS Discoveries units as they are finished, and would love for teachers and others in the CS education community to try them out and provide feedback. On the first page of every lesson plan, there is a Give Us Feedback! button that will open up a quick survey you can fill out with your thoughts and feedback. We really appreciate it!

Unit Lesson Plans Code Studio
Unit 1 - Problem Solving: Computers and Logic Lesson plans Code Studio
Unit 2 - The Internet: Web Development Lesson plans Code Studio
Unit 3 - Programming: Interactive Games and Animations Lesson plans Code Studio
Unit 4 - Problem Solving: The Design Process Lesson plans Code Studio
Unit 5 - The Internet: Data and Society Lesson plans Code Studio
Unit 6 - Programming: The Internet of Things Lesson plans Code Studio

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship between CS Discoveries and Exploring Computer Science?

The CS Discoveries course is deeply inspired by the philosophy of ECS, based on our experience teaching ECS, scaling it to thousands of classrooms nationwide, and evaluation of feedback from the teachers. This course teaches similar core concepts as ECS, and has a shared inquiry-based philosophy and teacher-learner-observer PD model. It also shares the same emphasis on equity which has pervaded Code.org's curriculum in other grade levels.

Learn more about Code.org's transition to CS Discoveries from Exploring Computer Science.

What is the timeline for CS Discoveries?

We will pilot the new course materials during the spring of 2016-17 with a group of 45 teachers across the US. The course will roll out formally in Summer 2017. Check back to this website frequently as we release drafted lesson plans!

Will CS Discoveries be mapped to standards?

We are developing the course using the K-12 CS Framework and the interim CSTA standards as guidance. Once the course is complete, and the revised CSTA standards have been released, we will provide a mapping to those standards.