Portland Christian Schools

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A Head Start in Computer Science

By taking the Computer Science course this fall, 18 students are discovering computer thinking and logic. 

As part of the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program (www.tealsk12.org) part of the Microsoft philanthropic organization, the students spend about 10-15 minutes in the first portion of their class with volunteer instructors who are part of the computer industry.  The remainder of the class is spent in hands on projects based on the demonstration of the programming curriculum.

Two volunteers from the computer industry, Ade Asaya of XPO Logistics, Inc. (also a PCS parent), and Scott Shurts of Autodesk are rotating instructors for this one year course.  

“I like it that the visiting teachers are professionals.  I’m learning what will help me with my future work,” shares Tony Oh, a senior in the computer science class.   He plans on majoring in computer science in college and is enjoying coding and programming. Junior Jeri Bahr shares Oh’s praises, saying they have “amazing teachers – they know what they’re teaching, using different ways to teach – interacting with us, lecturing, showing us the code, and are willing to talk to us.”

Students in Computer Science class

Students who signed up for this course have had Geometry, and are, along with the programming skills, learning language and creativity.  Mr. Matt Caldwell (classroom and program coordinator) notes that this program helps students hone their math, language and creative skills.  He explains further that the students learn to “to communicate in the language of computers with precision, and debug code.”

Students in Computer Science class

Junior Sam Asaya confirms this as he explains how the instructors “tell part of the lesson and we have to do the rest. We have a lot of thinking to do.  The class is very interactive.”  He explains, “we have projects almost every day.”

Another exciting aspect of PCS’ participation in TEALS is that more than 50 percent of STEM related jobs are oriented towards computers and only 10 percent of people in the job market have the necessary type of computer knowledge.  One of TEALS’ emphasis is to get women and ethnic groups into computer science.

Several young women as well as minority students have chosen to take this class. When asked about the computer science class, Bahr enthused how she loves seeing “how we can take simple ones and zeros, turn them into words, and they in turn become games!”  She’s really excited to be learning right now about loops and variables in game building, explaining that “loops allow persons to interact with the computer!”

Students in Computer Science class

By the end of the year’s course, students should understand computer thinking and computer logic, and be familiar with two computer languages: the SNAP program environment developed by MIT and Berkeley as well as the Python.