Middle School STEM: An Interactive Introduction to Programming
Term: Yearlong 2019–20, September 3–May 22
Target Grade Levels: Grades 6–9
Schedule: 2x / week, 60–75 min.
Section 1: T/Th 9:30 a.m. ET with Dr. Dever
New Placement Process: Click to Read
- students who are new to Scholé Academy
- students who have not completed the previous course level at Scholé Academy
- students who have not completed the designated prerequisites
- students who need to demonstrate skills and proficiency necessary for course success
- If a placement evaluation has not been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted a full refund, including the full $75 deposit.
- If a placement evaluation has been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted part of their $75 refund: $35 will be paid to the instructor for the placement evaluation, and the remaining $40 of the original deposit will be refunded.
In this class students will learn the basics of programming concepts and techniques using the Scratch interactive programming environment and the Logo programming language. No prior programming experience is needed or assumed.
Scratch is a freely available programming environment that may be accessed online (scratch.mit.edu). It allows students to assemble programs by using interactive blocks. By not requiring students to learn the detailed semantics of a particular language, Scratch allows students to dive directly into fundamental programming concepts. Since students will also need practice with typing programs and programming semantics, students will also learn in the second semester some of the semantics and have practice with the Logo language.
In addition to learning basic programming techniques that will serve as a foundation for further study of programming and coding, students will explore geometric concepts by programmed drawing using Scratch and Logo. In both the Scratch and Logo languages users can draw using programmed commands (this is called “turtle graphics”). For example a command “forward 100 left 30” moves the cursor (called the “turtle”) 100 paces forward and then turns it 30 degrees to its left. Students can thus interactively experiment with geometric concepts of length and angle used in plane geometry, such that the sum of the exterior angles of a polygon is always 360 degrees.
In addition to class discussion, students will learn through frequent guided programming assignments. For example students will learn how to draw fractals using recursion and make simple interactive games in Scratch. Exploration is encouraged, and many of the programming assignments will be open ended and meant to elicit creative solutions from the student.
The course is meant to provide an accessible foundation of computer science and programming techniques that may be useful for application and further study in computer science, programming, and STEM subjects. The class is designed for elementary or middle school students who have taken arithmetic or pre-algebra, although high school students are also welcome. No prior programming experience is needed or assumed.
- Learn to Program with Scatch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math, by Majed Marji
- Computer Science Logo Style, Vol. 1., Symbolic Computing, by Brian Harvey (Available Online)
*Required materials are not included in the purchase of the course.
Dr. John Dever earned a PhD in mathematics from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2018. Before that he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Mississippi. For the 2018-2019 school year he was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He has had over eight years of experience teaching a wide variety of mathematics courses at the college level. He has also taught middle school and high school mathematics for three years as a volunteer teacher and tutor at an Orthodox Christian school. He enjoys cultivating interest and curiosity in mathematics among students. He prioritizes student participation and discussion in class as means of helping students to build confidence and see the interconnections of the mathematical ideas under discussion. He hopes that students will begin to view mathematics as both a creative activity, in which they may be active participants, as well as a means of practical problem solving. firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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