Exploring Computer Science

Exploring Computer Science (ECS) is a yearlong, introductory high school course designed to engage students in computational thinking and practice. A major aim of ECS is attracting students who might not think of themselves as “typical” candidates for computer science.  ECS provides a comprehensive set of inquiry-based lessons while using a variety of tools and platforms. The course is a component of the ECS program, a K12/university partnership committed to democratizing computer science.  A major component of this program is teacher professional development, and CS for All Teachers aims to support that component.

The descriptions below relate to each of the curriculum’s six units, as well as information about available assessments. To learn more about the curriculum you can browse the ECS groups or join the ECS Open Group—which is a new group for all ECS teachers (regardless of your project or geographic location) to come together and talk all things ECS! 

  • Human computer interaction: In this unit students are introduced to the concepts of computer and computing while investigating the major components of computers and the suitability of these components for particular applications.
  • Problem solving: This unit provides students with opportunities to become “computational thinkers” by applying a variety of problem-solving techniques as they create solutions to problems that are situated in a variety of contexts
  • Web design: This section prepares students to take the role of a developer by expanding their knowledge of algorithms, abstraction, and web page design and applying it to the creation of web pages and documentation for users and equipment.
  • Programming: Students are introduced to some basic issues associated with program design and development.
  • Computing and data analysis: In this unit students explore how computing has facilitated new methods of managing and interpreting data
  • Robotics: This unit introduces robotics as an advanced application of computer science that can be used to solve problems in a variety of settings from business to healthcare and how robotics enables innovation by automating processes that may be dangerous or otherwise problematic for humans.
  • Assessments (you must join CS for All Teachers and subscribe to the ECS Open Group in order to view these documents): Assessments have been developed for ECS Units 1-4. Additionally, a cumulative assessment has been developed covering the first four units. The kind of understanding that ECS students should have about important computational practices goes beyond recalling facts or giving inputs to a program and predicting its outputs. Rather, students should demonstrate “ways of being and doing” when learning and exhibiting computer science knowledge, skills, and attitudes. To this end, the design of the assessments is based on the model of inquiry-based learning in ECS and the learning objectives underlying each unit. The assessments presume that knowledgeable students should be able to apply, evaluate, and explain what they are learning, among other skills.