Welcome to CS Explorations!

Explore the demo course for middle school students below.

About CS Explorations 1: CS Fundamentals in Scratch

Computer Science Explorations 1 is an introductory computer science course for 6 - 9th grade students. Mapped to CTSA standards, the course takes a wide lens on computer science by covering topics such as problem solving, programming, physical computing, user centered design, and data, while inspiring students as they build their own interactive coding projects, games and animations in Scratch.

CSE 1: Curriculum Guide

CSE 1: CS FUNDAMENTALS IN SCRATCH

CS Explorations 1 is an introductory computer science course that empowers students to create authentic artifacts and engage with computer science as a medium for creativity, communication, problem solving, and fun. In this introductory course, students will learn the foundational concepts and skills of computer science (CS). They will explore using computers to solve problems and to express themselves. The course is designed to be engaging and relevant to student lives. Students build, remix and share animations, games, stories, music and art, in a collaborative environment.

WHO IS THIS FOR?

The CSE1 curriculum is designed to support middle school students and teachers new to the discipline, as well as support more experienced educators. The curriculum reflects a highly flexible and integrated approach to teaching and learning CS that includes daily lesson plans made up of inquiry-based activities, videos, assessments, and computing tools, supporting both hands-on instruction and immersive digital learning.

Pacing Guidance

CSE 1 can be flexibly taught as a 9 or 12-week unit, single semester, two semesters over multiple years, or as a full-year course. Additional pacing options are available to support alternate elective blocks.

Block A

General
Quarter
9 weeks, 2 days

Block B

General
Quarter
9 weeks, 2 days

Block C

General
Quarter
9 weeks, 2 days

Block D

General
Quarter
9 weeks, 2 days

A-D Express (9 Weeks)

Alternate
9 weeks, 5 days

A-D Express (12 Weeks)

Alternate
12 weeks, 5 days

CSE 1: Overview

Block A of CS Explorations 1 provides students with an introduction to computer science, computing, and programming, and the foundational knowledge to begin using the Scratch programming tool. Students are introduced to the Scratch programming environment and key blocks used to program events and responses in Scratch. Through projects focused on computing concepts focused on driving motion, students will develop familiarity using Scratch and begin to understand wide-reaching principles of computer science and its applicability to other fields of study.

Unit 0
Getting Started With Computer Science

In this introductory unit, students start exploring what computer science is, what computers are (and are not) and an introduction to the history of computing, and become familiar with several key concepts of programming. Initial activities will introduce students to the basics of what computers are and introduce Scratch as a creative programming tool. In the culminating project for this unit, students will explore the Scratch interface by completing a simple "Go Coders!" project.

Unit 1
Motion in Scratch (Events)

In this unit, students are introduced to computer science concepts of events, sequencing, parallelism, and initialization. Students will work through projects focused on motion in Scratch with a focus on how to move a sprite around the stage using the XY coordinates and how to use broadcast and receive message blocks. Students will explore the concepts of sequenced and parallel events, and design creative projects that use event blocks to trigger a series of motions in their Scratch sprites.

Block A Final Project
"Movie Magic!"

Using their new knowledge of events, responses, sequences, and initialization, students will recreate and animate a scene from a movie or TV show of their choosing in Scratch. Students will translate a script from their chosen scene into Scratch blocks and features, add backdrops and characters, and replicate dialogue from the movie or show to bring their scene to life. Students will partake in a brainstorming process to develop their Scratch program concept before they create it, and will share their finished work with peers and provide and receive feedback. This summative project will assess students' understanding of the foundational concepts from Unit 0 and 1 before they progress to the more advanced concepts covered in Block B (Units 2 and 3).

Block B of CS Explorations 1 builds on students foundational knowledge from Block A, to introduce them to additional creative ways of using computer science. Students are introduced to the concepts of programming loops and conditionals through block-based Scratch projects that investigate animation and game design.

Unit 2
Animation (Loops)

In this unit, students are introduced to loops. Students will work through projects focused on animation in Scratch with a focus on making the distinction between bitmap and vector graphics, sprites and backgrounds, and how sprite costumes work. Students will either create their own animation project, or modify an existing starter project, to demonstrate their understanding of these concepts.

Unit 3
Games (Conditions)

In this unit, students are introduced to booleans and conditionals, which allow a program to run differently depending on whether a condition is true. In this unit, students will begin to apply concepts focused on conditional statements, “IF” and “IF-ELSE”. Students will work through projects focusing on building games in Scratch with a focus on user interactions and how to use the sensing blocks.

Block B Final Project
"Choose Your Own Adventure!"

Using conditional statements, booleans, and loops, students will design an animated "choose your own adventure" game for classmates to play with. Students will create a narrative that changes and adapts based on decisions made in the program, to result in a creative storytelling adventure that changes each time the program is run.

Block C of CS Explorations 1 introduces operators and variables to add complexity to student projects. Students will build on their work with conditional statements from Block B and use variables to introduce user input and variance to their creative projects.

Unit 4
Mazes and Games (Operators)

In this unit, students will explore the “IF” conditional statement in greater depth, particularly that the status of the condition can change and needs to be continually tested. Students will work through projects focusing on building games in Scratch with a focus on game design and user motivation. Students will also build a maze game in this unit as their creative project.

Unit 5
Storytelling (Variables)

In this unit, students are introduced to variables as a way to label a number in a program or save a randomly generated value and lists. The lessons begin with very basic descriptions of the purpose of a variable and continues to ask and answer blocks and user input. Students will work through projects integrating storytelling and music using the Scratch Spotify extension. Students will also create a Madlibs project in Scratch.

Block C Final Project
"Don't Change the Channel!"

Students will create a TV channel menu in Scratch that plays a variety of short TV show clips, depending on input from the user. Want to watch a sports match between two sprites? Have a favorite cartoon you want to see? Need to check out the news? Using loops, ask and answer blocks, and user input, students will write a program that allows a user to pick the channel they want to watch, then view the corresponding series of sprite interactions based on their choice.

Block D of CS Explorations 1 provides students with two additional pathways for exploring computer science: through the arts and artificial intelligence. Students will use the programming concepts of procedures to create art in Scratch, and explore the fundamentals of artificial intelligence and its impact.

Unit 6
Art (Procedures)

In this unit, students are introduced to procedures. Students will work through projects that integrate art and drawing with a focus on how to use the pen tool with emphasis on creating procedures for efficiency and readability. Students will build a 'fantastic flower' to demonstrate understanding of these concepts.

Unit 7
Artificial Intelligence

In this unit, students are introduced to artificial intelligence, what it is (and isn't), and the enormous impact it has on their daily lives as conscientious consumers and designers of AI. Students will work through off-line and Scratch-based activities to start exploring the technical concepts of artificial intelligence and the ethical implications those technical concepts have on their lives and on society.

Block D Final Project
"Museum Magic"

Using the Scratch stage as their canvas, students will animate a piece of art at a virtual museum that draws itself. Students will use the pen tool and their understanding of procedures to implement coding blocks that draw a piece of art as the program runs, and use boolean statements that allow a user to change the piece of art they are viewing when the program is run.

Professional Development: Teaching CS Explorations 1

Teaching CS Explorations 1 is a professional learning program that will provide you with the information and resources you need to effectively facilitate the CS Explorations 1 course.

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