What is Computer Science?

  • Computer Science is more than just computer programming. It is computational thinking, logical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving. Computer Science intersects with every subject area our students will take in school and every career path they may choose to pursue following graduation.

    • Computer science is about how things work and how we can make them work better. Coding and hardware are ways to do that. Coding is a part of computer science, just as biology is one area of study in the natural sciences. We would never say science is only biology, so why do we act like computer science is only coding?

    • The key to computer science—and as a result, coding—is thinking. People express their thoughts in language. So it might help to think about coding as a language. Although we have language classes, we use languages in all subjects. We teach kids to read so they can learn from others, not so they can become professional readers. We teach kids to write so they can communicate, even though we know only a few will get jobs as writers.

    • We need to think about teaching kids to code in the same way. Sure, the Internet of things means more jobs will require coding. But most students are not going to become professional programmers—just as most students do not become professional writers. That’s OK. They still should learn to code. They still should learn a different way of thinking, communicating their thoughts to others, and learning what others think.

     Aspinall, Brian. Code Breaker: Increase Creativity, Remix Assessment, and Develop a Class of Coder Ninjas! (p. 19). Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

    K–12 Computer Science Framework

    “One myth out there is that we have to focus on reading and math because that is going to be on those standardized tests. I believe computer science needs to be part of our daily schedules and curriculum. We have to recognize that. We’ve been chasing elusive student achievement scores when we should be chasing student engagement. Computer science gives us that opportunity to have student engagement.”

    • New Mexico's Lt. Gov. and former special education teacher Howie Morales at the kickoff event for national Computer Science Education Week 2019

    CS for Good - Change the World

What is Nevada Doing to Bring Computer Science to Our Schools?

  • Computer science is no longer a “nice to know” elective but rather a “need to know” core subject. Nevada has recognized this shift and has taken groundbreaking steps to ensure all students have equitable access to computer science education in our “New Nevada”.

    "Nevada is changing. Where once as a state we were known mainly for our gaming, tourism, and hospitality industries, we have now added to our portfolio many new and exciting industries such as clean energy, robotics, battery manufacturing, drones, and autonomous vehicles. Nevada’s established industries are also changing as technology and entertainment collide.”* NV. State Advisory Council on STEM

    Nevada's vision is that every student in Nevada has equitable access to computer science education prior to graduation from high school.

    Nevada State Senate Bill 200 was signed into law on June 15, 2017 by Governor Brian Sandoval, and is a ground-breaking piece of legislation that is expanding computer science education to ALL students in Nevada.

    (Effective July 1, 2017)

    • A school must allow a student to count a course in computer science as a 4th year math credit OR a 3rd year science credit (only one credit total) for graduation upon successful completion of an AP Computer Science course, a CTE computer science course, or a CS course offered by an approved community college or university. This is ONLY after the student has successfully completed the required math or science coursework for which an end-of-course exam is prescribed.
    • Creation of a computer science sub committee to advise the State Board, Academic Standards Council, Charter Authority, the Commission on Professional Standards, and trustees on computer science curriculum, professional development, and licensing.
    • Computer science must count as a math OR science credit (only one) towards the requirements for the Millennium Scholarship 

    (Effective July 1, 2018)

    • Before beginning 6th grade, all students are required to receive instruction in computer education and technology as approved by the state board.
    • If state board prescribes a high school computer education and technology course, the state board will prescribe the percentage of instructional time for the course that must be dedicated to computer science and computational thinking.
    • Adds computer science and computational thinking to the existing computer education and technology standards
    • Requires Computer Science and Computer Education and Technology professional development 
    • The Department of Education, in consultation with the STEM Advisory Council (Computer Science sub committee) will review all instruction and make recommendations to the School Board.

    (Effective July 1, 2020) 

    • A Computer Science course (as outlined) can count towards college admissions as a 3rd year science or 4th year math (beyond Algebra II) if the state board approves the course. 

    (Effective July 1, 2022)

    • All public high schools, charter school, and university schools for profoundly gifted students are required to offer a state board approved Computer Science course. This can be an online course offering.
    • These schools must also make efforts to increase enrollment of girls, students with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in the field of computer science as identified by the state board. 
    • The department, in consultation with the STEM Advisory Council (CS sub committee), will review each course in computer science submitted to the State Board for approval.

    For more details:

    NV State Computer Science Standards Overview:

    On August 23rd - 25th, 2017 a group of educators from across the state met to write the first round of computer science standards. On Jan. 18th, 2018 they were approved by the State Department of Education (NVDOE).

    • Our world is increasingly dependent upon technology, computers, and the training necessary to compete in a global digital age. The Nevada K-12 Computer Science Standards provide the rigor that our students need to become proficient at problem solving, computational thinking, and innovators of computational artifacts, rather than just users of them. Computer Science intersects with every subject area our students will take in school and every career path they may choose to pursue following graduation.

    • Our mission (NVDOE) is to provide engaging and rigorous computer science education for ALL Nevada students, regardless of their age, race, gender, disability, socioeconomic level, or what school they attend, and to prepare them for a wide variety of postsecondary experiences and careers in the digital age. Our students are not only consumers of technology, but creators of it.

    • As you explore the K-12 CS Standards, you will notice they are setup with similarities to the NGSS in that they are "dimensional": Core Concepts, Sub Concepts, and Practices.

How is WCSD Bringing Computer Science to Our Schools?

  • WCSD's goal is to bring computer science and coding to students from kindergarten through high school. This includes integrating computer science into other subject areas and teaching computer science as a stand-alone subject. WCSD is working to:

    • train teachers of younger students to include computer science into instruction, 
    • offer more beginning and introductory computer science opportunities in middle schools and high schools, and 
    • create equitable access to computer science for all students.

    Elementary Schools: Grades K-6

    In 2018-19 a cadre of 40 innovative and motivated teachers, representing a diverse selection of WCSD elementary schools, will bring computer science and coding to over 700 students as part of the regular school day. Funded through Senate Bill 200 (2017), these classrooms have a variety of computer science resources for student use. Teachers will participate in over 100 hours of professional development, training, and support, to help them bring computational thinking and computer science to their students. 

    Many elementary schools also offer a range of opportunities for students to engage in computer science, coding, and robotics. 

    Secondary Schools: Grades 6-12

    Approximately 900 WCSD students are presently enrolled in Computer Science courses in nine WCSD high schools. This number represents an increase of 120% (2018 to 2019)! Well ahead of the 2022 deadline established by SB200, we welcome four new computer science high schools: Galena, Incline, Spanish Springs, and Wooster. AACT, Damonte Ranch, Hug, McQueen, and Reno all have previously established programs.

    Our goals for next year are to support two additional high schools as they work to meet SB200 requirements and to continue expanding computer science education as we provide more equitable access to computer science education for all students.