Computer Science

Level One Courses

Computer Science for the Humanities

Trimester – 2 credits

Open to all grades. Prerequisite: none. In this trimester course, students will practice problem-solving skills by creating computer programs that focus on applications to the study of history and language. Through projects including population simulations, word games, and social-interaction models, students will dive headfirst into computer science while preparing themselves to utilize technology to better their understanding of the humanities and share this understanding with others. The skills learned in this course will prepare students for Level Two computer science courses and will be widely applicable to further pursuits in other disciplines.

Computer Science for Mathematics and Science

Trimester – 2 credits

Open to all grades. Prerequisite: none. In this trimester course, students will practice problem-solving skills by creating computer programs that focus on applications to the study of mathematics and science. Through projects on topics including animal mimicry, healthcare applications, fractals, and science simulations, students will immerse themselves into computer science while preparing themselves to utilize technology to better their understanding of mathematics and science and share this understanding with others. The skills learned in this course will prepare students for Level Two computer science courses and will be widely applicable to further pursuits in other disciplines.

Computer Science for Art and Music

Trimester – 2 credits

Open to all grades. Prerequisite: none. In this trimester course, students will practice problem-solving skills by creating computer programs that focus on applications to the study of art and music. Through projects on topics including game animation, user-interface design, electronic instruments, and autonomous art generation, students will immerse themselves into computer science while preparing themselves to utilize technology to better their understanding of the arts and share this understanding with others. The skills learned in this course will prepare students for Level Two computer science courses and will be widely applicable to further pursuits in other disciplines.

Level Two Courses

Introduction to Object-Oriented Design

Trimester – 2 credits

Open to all grades. Prerequisite: Successful completion of a Level One computer science course or an entrance assessment. This Level Two computer science elective introduces students to the object-oriented computer programming paradigm through both individual and group projects. Languages may include Processing, Java, and Python. Throughout this course, students will discover unique programming solutions to real-world applications with the opportunity to investigate broader implications. Students will not only develop object-oriented programming skills, but will also further develop collaboration skills paramount to working within computer science and with other disciplines. This course is a prerequisite for AP Computer Science or Computer Science Innovations.

Physical Computing

Trimester – 2 credits

Open to all grades. Prerequisite: Successful completion of a Level One computer science course or an entrance assessment. This Level Two computer science elective provides students interested in robotics, engineering, and mobile application design an opportunity to explore these topics. As a result, coursework focuses on robotics design using microcontrollers (including working within The Internet of Things), electrical engineering fundamentals, and development of applications that can be used on mobile phones. Students have the ability to research, design, and build robot models to solve challenges, learn to control existing manufactured electronics with computers, and utilize sensors on mobile phones to build simple applications. Using Arduinos, Wi-Fi enabled microcontrollers, mobile phones, and various newly developed motion sensors, students will explore how technology can be utilized to control elements in the physical world. In addition to developing skills essential to the maker culture, this course prepares students to take the Level Three Computer Science Innovations course.

Machine Learning and the Social Implications of Artificial Intelligence

Year– 6 credits

Open to juniors and seniors. Prerequisite: Successful completion of a Level One Computer Science course.

Machine learning is ubiquitous today, utilized in everything from curating recommendation lists on Netflix to diagnosing medical conditions to detecting credit card fraud. As a result of the pervasiveness of this technology, and the desire to fully prepare our students to be fully engaged citizens, the Computer Science and History departments will offer this co-taught, full year course on Machine Learning. In this course, students will learn how to ask questions and solve problems with big-data to better understand the world from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Using critical thinking skills, students will explore and grapple with issues – such as determining authorship, understanding political affiliations, optimizing transportation systems, and analyzing the criminal justice system – that require an interdisciplinary lens to be understood best. Through this integrated class, students will learn the computer science techniques necessary to engage societal problems, they will be able to understand the historical forces that sired these issues in the first place, and they will be able to better predict the possible social and political consequences of technological change. Students who take this course can earn credit for either a computer science or history course, but not both, and must designate their choice at the time of enrollment.

Level Three Courses

AP Computer Science A

Year - 6 credits

Open to tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders. Prerequisite: successful completion of Introduction to Object-Oriented Design (previously named Programming Structures) or successful completion of an entrance assessment, a pre-class reading assignment, and approval from the department chair. This course further introduces students to object-oriented programming as a means of problem solving and advances students’ knowledge of computer science as a complete academic discipline. Topics include those in other computer science electives, as well as those required for the AP Computer Science A exam. Students work on projects throughout the year and complete individual and cooperative assignments. This course is a culmination of other computer science electives and prepares students for Algorithm Design, Computer Science Innovations, and a college track of technical studies in engineering and computer science.

Computer Science Innovations 1

Year – 6 credits

Open to tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders. Prerequisite: Successful completion of a Level Two computer science course. Students will be involved in full-scale research projects to solve real-world problems using computer science. They will model the approach computer science teams use to complete full-scale projects and will utilize the agile software development model. This practicum-based course will have students working through each step of a project, from research to design to implementation. Upon completion, students will produce a research paper summarizing the execution of their projects and orally present their research efforts at a year-end STEM Symposium. Proposals for research projects can be student-generated or instructor-guided ideas. Proposals will be considered by both the class instructor and the Director of City as Our Campus. Through the City as Our Campus program, each student will be paired with an expert community mentor which will help students refine their project ideas and provide valuable feedback as students implement their work. Students must submit a proposal to be approved by the teacher to be admitted into this class.

Level Four Courses

Computer Science Innovations 2

Year – 6 credits

Open to tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Level Three Computer Science Innovations One. In this second year of Computer Science Innovations, students will again be involved in full-scale research projects to solve real-world problems using computer science. Enrolled students may choose a new project or may continue work to refine the research performed in the Level Three Computer Science Innovations One course. Students must submit a proposal to be approved by the teacher to be admitted into this class.

Algorithm Design

Year – 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of AP Computer Science or successful completion of an entrance assessment. In this capstone course, students will more fully develop their computational problem solving skills by learning to abstract complex problems to generate both elegant and efficient solutions. With a focus on algorithm design and best software-engineering practices, students will be presented with weekly/biweekly challenges and be assessed on their ability to develop the most efficient and elegant solutions. Challenges will be based on familiar problems including sorting contact names in a cellular phone, determining shortest paths for delivery of products by trucking fleets, and scheduling students for classes. Both time and space complexity will be evaluated for each student’s algorithms with the goal of optimizing solutions. Approximation algorithms and heuristics will be used when optimal solutions are too time-prohibitive to find, and students will learn to identify which problems require these techniques. After students learn a variety of algorithm techniques, they will apply these to problems realized by challenges found within the city of Pittsburgh and abroad. Challenges will allow students to hone the problem-solving and programming skills acquired in the Level One-Three courses, will prepare students for college-level computer science, mathematics and engineering courses as well as improve critical thinking skills applicable to any discipline.

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City Campus
555 Morewood Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
P: 412-578-7500
F: 412-578-7504

North Campus
4225 Middle Road
Allison Park, PA 15101
P: 412-486-8341
F: 412-578-7504