New Course To Integrate Math & Computer Science
The CS Academy curriculum is unique, UC-approved and growing. After developing two unique courses this year, CS Academy Director Paul Muhl is breaking ground again this year by planning another innovative new course for next year.
This summer, Mr. Muhl will work with SBHS calculus teacher Richard Johnston to develop a new course that combines honors pre-calculus course and computer science. The course will be taught by Mr. Johnston and will cover the full pre-calculus curriculum, but use the python programing language to execute many of the assignments. This course is an honors course receiving UC mathematics credit and will start in fall of 2015. The pair hopes to be able to collaborate and develop additional CS integrated math courses in the near future.
“Integrating CS and math is a great way to introduce students to computer science who might not otherwise consider it,” said Mr. Johnston. “We hope that many students taking these courses will go on to take advanced courses in computer science.”
“We are very excited to be able to offer another course in which students will learn coding skills while satisfying a regular graduation requirement,” commented Mr. Muhl.
The CS Academy has several innovative courses already, including one that combines art and computer science. Students in this Computational Art course are granted UC credit for fine arts but also learn to program in Processing, an easy-to-learn programming language. The art course was developed exclusively for the CS Academy by Mr. Muhl in collaboration with Cal Poly SLO professor, Dr. Zoe Wood. The new iOS Mobile Programming course for advanced students is also an exciting new elective pioneered this year by Mr. Muhl. These courses add to our current offerings of Exploring Computer Science and AP Computer Science allowing students to become well rounded confident programmers. Both of these courses are approved for UC elective credit. These innovative courses are providing a model for what CS education can be in the 21st Century.
See more awe-inspiring static and dynamic art programmed by students in the Computational Art class on Picasa.
Silicon Valley Field Trip
On January 24-26th, CS Academy Director Paul Muhl, SBHS Teacher Joe Velasco and several parents took a group of 20 advanced computer science students (juniors and seniors) on a field trip to Silicon Valley. Highlights of the trip included personal tours at Google, Facebook and a smaller start-up in Palo Alto. Over the course of the three days, they also visited the Intel Museum, the Computer History Museum and had tours of the Computer Science departments at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Stanford University.
The students had a chance to see the entire lifecycle of a successful tech company–from the original Lego-covered and duct-taped Google server built by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were students at Stanford, to a Google campus that houses more than 20,000 employees today! It was a great experience for everyone, and the students came back inspired by the range of technologies and careers they saw.
“I think everyone really enjoyed the trip, perhaps even more than originally anticipated. We were able to go so many places and found inspiration at every stop,” said Mr. Muhl. “The students definitely felt a part of something bigger after having experienced what their future may hold,” he added.
The trip was organized by parent volunteer Kathryn DeBruynkops and parent chaperones included Gayle Eidelson, Melanie Brewer, and Chris and Maureen Speer. Two of Gayle’s sons work at Google and served as tour guides. A third son, recent SBHS grad Nathan Eidelson who is currently an undergraduate at Stanford served as a tour guide of the computer science and electrical engineering campus there.
Speaker Lunches: From Robots to Hot Cameras
Last month Blair Whitney, former Don and Director of Software Engineering at InTouch Health spoke to CS Academy students to explain how they program mobile devices to control robots positioned in hospitals and emergency vehicles so that doctors with specialized expertise can deliver health care remotely. At an earlier lunch talk, InTouch Software Engineering Director Andy Young spoke about his role as a software developer and mobile app development manager. The staff at InTouch’s Santa Barbara headquarters are a mix of software engineers (mobile and desktop) and mechanical and electrical engineers. Blair shared that he has worked for a variety of software companies in town, from start-ups to larger companies, and that he would highly recommend students keep an open mind and try as many different situations as he’d experienced.
Earlier this year Ed Ware, software engineering manager at Raytheon visited and talked about Raytheon’s pilot protection radar and software. Philip Cook, a software engineer at Raytheon’s Self Protect Systems in Goleta joined him. The F-18 fighter jet is equipped with the Raytheon-built ALR-69A radar warning receiver system which notifies the pilot of hostile threats. The software which makes this system work has no easy task, and the software simulations needed to verify the system is just as complex.
One of the more exciting talks of the year was Dr. Austin Richards from FLIR who brought an infrared camera, a technology with many applications–from finding hotspots in forest fires that can’t be seen through heavy smoke to finding invisible water leaks in buildings and even applications in crime fighting.
National Awards for Paul Muhl & CS Academy Junior
Maria De Angelis
CS Academy Director Paul Muhl has won the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award! This is a great recognition of his work in encouraging young women’s interest in computing and also an acknowledgement that the CS Academy is on the right track with its inclusive vision of computing. This award is made by a national selection committee based on an educator’s application and by supporting letters from students. Congratulations also go to SBHS CS Academy junior Maria De Angelis–who was selected as an NCWIT National Award winner – one of only 35 nationwide – and the first ever from any school in the Central California region.
As a recipient of the Educator Award, Paul received an engraved commemorative trophy and $1,000 of expense reimbursement for computing-related professional development activities as well as a Sphero robot for educational purposes.
Maria will be honored at the Bank of America Technology Stars of the Future Showcase and Awards Ceremony on March 7, 2015, in Charlotte, North Carolina. She will receive a $500 cash prize, laptop computer, and two engraved trophies — one for her and one for her school.
Maria recently participated in Startup Weekend Santa Barbara, and created an Arduino controlled light up bike helmet to increase safety. Her team won Third Place Overall and Best Physical Product. Maria and junior Anna Brewer are co-founders of a two-week summer camp teaching middle school girls how to code. The camp was very successful and the two students ran a second weekend course in January. She is also on the board of SBHS Robotics team, which has won numerous prizes in the BotBall and Vex Robotics competitions. Maria took AP Computer Science last year, and is currently taking iOS programming.
The NCWIT organization works to address a problem pervasive in technology today: the fact that young women represent a promising source of technical talent, yet are woefully underrepresented in computing. They acknowledge that great teachers are the most important factors in inspiring young women to engage with technology in meaningful ways and pursue technical careers.