Greetings from the Director

Hello Computer Science Academy families and happy 2016! We’ve had a very busy and exciting couple of months and are now well into our second semester.  Mr. Johnston’s ECS classes are learning SNAP and have recently been controlling Finch robots with their programs. In Computational Art, we’ve begun our image processing unit where we use code to creatively modify images, one pixel at a time, and are currently involved in our Andy Warhol assignment.  The AP classes are close to finishing with new material, about to move into review mode, and the Mobile Programming students are wrapping up their tour of iOS fundamentals, ready to start learning about SpriteKit, the gaming environment with a fully functional physics engine. PreCalc with Python has been writing code to solve triangles (find all the angles and sides) using the law of sines and the law of cosines. Keep reading to learn more about what we’ve been up to since you last heard from us.


Paul Muhl


The Hour of Code week


As part of an ongoing nationwide effort to promote the teaching and learning of coding skills in schools, the SBHS Computer Science Academy hosted Hour of Code activities in our computer labs during the week of December 7th.  Announcements were made school wide, as well as within our classes, for all students to come try coding, bring a friend, and get pizza during lunchtime in rooms 25 and 26.  Sessions were well attended, coding was accomplished, and fun was had by all. That week we also collaborated with three SBJH science teachers on their Hour of Code activities by sending several of our students to help out in their classrooms over the course of two days. Ms. Garza, Ms. Knecht, and Ms. Kilroy all requested volunteers and we were able to fulfill their requests.  Feedback from the SBJH teachers confirmed that the Hour of Code activities were well received by students and this was a great way to get the word out about the CS Academy.



Also in December, on Wednesday the 16th, SBHS hosted a Convivio (gathering) for Spanish speaking families of current and incoming students to learn more about the academies at the school. Conducted in Spanish with interpreters, the evening went much like an open house, with several rounds of tours and presentations, and a general meeting in the cafeteria before and after the tours/presentations in each academy location.


Open House

In the second week of January SBHS hosted its annual Open House, a night dedicated to providing information and tours to families with incoming students for next year.  This year, in addition to the regular department and program offerings, each of the academies did specialized presentations.




On the night following the Open House, the District hosted its Academy Showcase at Earl Warren Showgrounds.  Like last year, it was a huge success. Mr. Johnston and I, along with about 10 students, our newly printed brochures, and several computers, spent a packed couple of hours answering questions for next year’s prospective academy students. It was estimated that attendance was one thousand people over the two hour span – no wonder we felt busy!


Guest Speakers

In December, Adam Gray, cofounder of local IT services and solutions company Novacoast, and a former Don, captivated a near-capacity crowd of 50+ students. He talked about his work in cyber security and some of the recent major cyber incidents his company has helped clients recover from. He finished his talk by encouraging students to challenge themselves, work hard in their computer science classes, and come to work for him!


January’s guest speaker was Donn Wurts of Dimension Data Healthcare. Donn came and spoke about how healthcare has been transformed by information technology, about the scale and importance of software in healthcare, and about the vast opportunities in this still emerging field. Later in the talk, Mr. Wurts also showed some compelling examples of how data collection, software, and the internet of things (IoT) continues to revolutionize such things as the Tour de France and the protection of critically endangered species from poaching.  The talk was very well attended and warmly received.  Thanks Donn!


Enrollment Open

Spread the news to your non-academy friends! Academy enrollment opened at the beginning of January and will remain open all spring. The first round of acceptances will be processed starting in March. Go to to sign up.


Silicon Valley Field Trip


On the last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of January, a small but accomplished group of juniors and seniors from the CS Academy went on a field trip to Silicon Valley.  Over the span of the trip we visited Cal Poly SLO and Santa Clara Universities, the Intel museum, the Computer History museum, Facebook, NASA Ames Research Center, and a very exciting start up called Peloton Technology. Students got tours of the University campuses from current students and were able to learn about the variety of computer science related degrees and student life at each school. At Facebook we toured the campus, saw where the Facebook and Instagram engineers work, and had a peek at the life of a software engineer in Silicon Valley. At Peloton, one of the co-founders showed us their complete facility and talked, not only about their unique technology venture, but also about the lifecycle and business aspects of a start-up technology company.  Last but not least, the tours of the Intel Museum, NASA Ames, and the Computer History Museum brought to life the long history of computing – from the abacus, to the invention and development of integrated circuits on silicon chips, to the present day, including the stories of the men and women who made it all happen. It was a fantastic trip and something to really look forward to for next year’s group.



Hutton Parker Foundation Grant

Santa Barbara High School’s Computer Science Academy is pleased to announce that it has received a $20,000 grant from the Hutton Parker Foundation.

The Hutton Parker Foundation supports charitable, scientific, literary and educational organizations.  Their unique Core Support Program provides strategic general operating support leading to increased capacity and sustainability for organizations.

The SBHS Computer Science Academy’s first two years of offerings as a full-fledged academy have demonstrated the value and importance of this educational pathway.  The Core Support grant from the Hutton Parker Foundation will aid in the Academy’s transition from startup to a sustainable, long-term component of our community’s educational offerings.

To learn more about the Hutton Parker Foundation and their Core Support program, visit


Computer Science in the News

Back in December, SBHS’s Computational Art class was featured in a radio spot for NPR’s Southern California affiliate KPCC, based on phone interviews done by myself, Dr. Zoe Wood, and another teacher down in San Diego. Listen to the piece and read about it here:

President Obama’s State of the Union Address in January carried a clear message about the increasing importance of computer science education in the U.S. and his goal to make CS education available to all. Read about it here:


Thank You to Our Parent Volunteers

Last but not least I’d like to make a special shout out of appreciation to all the wonderful parent volunteers helping with the beyond-the-classroom activities you’ve just read about. This is truly a community effort that wouldn’t happen without all of you!

Newsletter and CSA brochures – Trea DePrima, Felicia Kashevaroff

Website – Susan Poirier

Guest Speakers – Tiziana de Simone, Winifred Lender, Jeff Rawlings

Silicon Valley Field Trip – Julie Siegel, David Siegel, Courtney Narine, Kathryn DeBruynKops, Gayle Eidelson


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