Intro to Computer Science

For a printer-friendly version of this syllabus, view this Course Syllabus document.

Introduction to Computer Science is a 1 semester course in the Business/Marketing/Technology Department. Students completing it successfully will earn 1/2 credit in Occupational Education.


This course is an introduction to computer science and software engineering for all students interested in developing software applications, not just using them.

Through a project-oriented approach, students will explore a variety of programming systems and languages to create interactive applications and systems. By collaborating in a hands-on environment, students will learn problem solving, software design, debugging strategies, and the foundations of computer science (data structures, procedures, and algorithms). Students will work on projects (both individual and team) in the areas of graphics and games, animation and art, electronics systems, and interactive fashion, all using open-source software tools such as Scratch, Arduino, Processing, and Python.


Basic familiarity with computers and software applications, plus a curious spirit and a willingness to experiment and learn.


Upon successful completion of this course, students should:

  • Understand basic principles of thinking and solving problems with computers and computation.
  • Be able to specify procedures for solving problems and the concepts and practice of designing and implementing algorithms.
  • Recognize, analyze, and correctly use the basic elements of computer programs, such as statements, variables, events, conditionals, loops, timers, and arrays.
  • Grasp and utilize the fundamental concepts of computer science including data types, control structures, operators, functions, and libraries.
  • Have a working knowledge of computer system design and the practice of software engineering, software tools, debugging, and documentation.
  • Be able to design, plan, prototype, implement, test, and document a reasonably complicated software (and hardware) project.


A summary of the units of study and topics for the course is listed below. Detailed information about assignments and assessments may be found on other pages of this site.

Unit Topics Duration
Computational Thinking Problem Solving
System Design
1 week
Elements of Programming Control Flow
4 weeks
Computer Science Fundamentals Data Types
Control Structures
3 weeks
Software Engineering Software Design
Programming Tools
4 weeks
Final Project Concept & Proposal
Design Documentation
Project Plan
User Testing
6 weeks


There is no textbook for this course, although there will be reference books available in the classroom. Most of the teaching materials (handouts, presentation slides, resource lists, assignments, etc.) will be found online, either on a website that I have developed specifically for this course (see below), or other public website resources.

Please be sure to have a composition book for the class (as well as writing instruments, of course), as you will need it for notes and keeping a journal. If you intend to work on your projects outside of school, you will need a flash drive to transport digital files back and forth.

We will be using many different software tools in the course. All of them are installed on the computers in the lab. Most of the software is “open source,” which means it is free and available for anyone to download and use on their own computers. So you can also work at home or anywhere else you have access to another computer.


You have obviously found the course website online, since you are reading this text.

I intend to use the website, with its announcements blog, as the main source of all assignments, reference materials, and communications. Grades will be posted on the Source, but I won’t be posting detailed information about assignments there.


This course is based primarily on the philosophy of project-based learning. This means that students will learn by designing and implementing programming projects.

There will be regular assignments to complete, typically one per week or every other week, depending on the topic. These assignments will involve applying the principles and techniques of computation, programming, and computer science in increasingly complicated exercises and small projects.

The final project is an investigation of how to design and implement a software application and will also afford the opportunity to experiment with basic digital electronics. This project will require students to design, plan and implement a software project of their own choosing. Students will be encouraged to work in small teams on this project, to gain experience in working collaboratively, much as software projects are developed in real companies.

There will also be a number of short quizzes during the semester to reinforce understanding of the concepts and technical details of programming.

Finally, a component of all Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses is a demonstration of professionalism. Students are expected to actively participate in class, show leadership, and exhibit responsible behavior in preparation for life beyond high school. There will be activities and tasks in the classroom that emphasize these skills.


Grades will be based on the components as shown below.

Assignments 60%
Final Project 20%
Quizzes 10%
Professionalism 10%

Grades will be posted on the Source, generally within two weeks of the due date of the assignment.


This course is structured so that you can accomplish all of the required work during class sessions, because much of it requires software and supplies that are in our lab and not generally available on other school computers.

But things always come up, from absences to illness to just needing extra time. Late work will be accepted, without regard to cause, because I would rather have you do the work and learn the material we cover than not.

However, to be fair and to encourage you to keep up with the work, late assignments will be marked down 10%. You can submit late work not more than two weeks past the due date, without extenuating circumstances.


A complete list of general course policies can be found on the “Course Policies” page of this site.


I will be available most days during lunch periods and after school for extra lab time or individual help. Email ( is also a great way to get in touch with me for questions or problems.