In Kindergarten and grade 1, students begin basic programming with the use of Bee-Bots, a programmable floor robot, acquiring sequencing, strategizing and problem-solving skills. Students in grades 1 -6 move on to more advanced LEGO Robotics. Students begin with the essentials, learning about the benefits of simple machines such as levers, pulleys, gears, wheels and axles. They work with partners to build a robot from pre-defined directions and then move to a challenge, creating their own robot working within a set of parameters to create a solution.
Building and programming robots introduces and fosters critical computational thinking skills behind programming of identifying a problem, breaking it down into smaller pieces, developing a strategy or algorithm to solve it, and troubleshooting when it doesn’t work as expected. It also nurtures collaboration with other students, persistence and creativity.
In addition to coding with Bee-Bots, computer programming continues to instill computational thinking with Scratch Jr., a graphical computer programming language, taught in grades K – 2. In grades 3 – 4, students build on basic coding skills advancing to Scratch, a block based visual programming language. In grades 5 – 6, students combine their knowledge of robotics and coding, to program their own robot to perform a variety of tasks using LEGO Mindstorm.
In the Middle School, grades 7 and 8, students transition from graphical programming to text-based programming using the language LUA, coding with the app Codea on their iPads.
The computer science curriculum advances in the Upper School with higher level computer programming classes in three different computer languages, Processing, Python and Java. Students can then move on to two Advanced Placement courses, AP computer programming and AP computer principles, as well as two post-AP courses, software engineering and mobile apps development.