FAQ: Computer Science Discoveries and Exploring Computer Science

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

This course is deeply inspired by the philosophy of Exploring CS, based on our years of experience teaching ECS, scaling it to hundreds of classrooms nationwide, and evaluation of feedback from the teachers. This course teaches the same core concepts as ECS, along with the same inquiry-based philosophy and the same teacher-learner-observer PD model. It also shares the same emphasis on equity which has pervaded Code.org's curriculum in other grade levels. Because of a shared philosophy and similar learning sequence, we believe and expect that CS Discoveries can be a natural successor to ECS for schools or teachers who love the ECS philosophy while looking to gain some of the benefits mentioned below.

Why is Code.org transitioning to a new course from ECS?

ECS is a great, well-established introductory computing course. We've helped hundreds of teachers introduce it in their classrooms, and we continue to support it and the hundreds of teachers currently teaching the course in our partner districts. We've also collected feedback from teachers and evaluation of our programs. Below are our reasons to make a new course:

  • We're making a curriculum pathway from K through 12. To date, we’ve offered districts, teachers and students various entry points into computer science that weren’t specifically designed as a pathway for students from Kindergarten through graduation. This new course will complete our K-12 pathway, building on experiences from our elementary CS Fundamentals course and preparing students for CS Principles, while providing appropriate support for students without prior CS experience.
  • With millions of students learning drag-and-drop block based programming in grades K-5, many are entering middle and high school ready to transition into a full text-based language. We want to support these students while simultaneously keeping the benefits of drag-and-drop. This is uniquely possible within our App Lab programming environment, which allows students to switch back and forth seamlessly between blocks and text, allowing a classroom to work in different modalities while using the same tool and the same curriculum.
  • Our middle schools are requesting introductory computer science curriculum similar in scope to ECS, but designed for grades 7 - 8. ECS is designed as a high school course, and although some groups have adapted it to use in middle school, we want to create a course that is designed intentionally with this grade band in mind.

Can I keep teaching ECS?

Of course! If schools prefer to continue using the ECS v5 curriculum, we will continue distributing it to them. If they want to use the latest version of ECS, they may also choose to ask the ECS team for it.

I was trained on ECS, can I transition to CS Discoveries?

For existing ECS teachers who want to try the new curriculum, resources will be made available online to get familiar with the CS Discoveries content. The core pedagogy surrounding equity and inquiry as well as the high level conceptual material should be very familiar to ECS teachers. You will also be welcome to integrate parts of CS Discoveries into your current ECS course at your own pace and as you see fit.

Why the name CS Discoveries?

This course is independently authored, yet deeply inspired by the underlying philosophy, core concepts, and exploratory nature of ECS. This course should feel familiar to those who have taught ECS, but better aligned to our cohesive K-12 pathway integrating the pedagogy, teacher supports, and tools for which Code.org has become known. We initially chose the name “CS Explorations” to pay homage to ECS, because it was important to us to be clear where our inspiration has come from.

Due to feedback that "CS Explorations" would create confusion among educators, we are using the name "CS Discoveries", which suggests the exploratory nature of a survey course, and fits between our CS Fundamentals and CS Principles courses as part of a full K-12 pathway, while avoiding any confusion with ECS. We will still clarify upfront in the curriculum that this work is inspired by ECS, without reflecting that inspiration in the title.