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Taking tech into their own hands

Project Lead the Way (PLTW): Computer Science Principles empowers students to become creators, instead of merely consumers, of the technology all around them. The program engages students in collaborative projects that help them develop in-demand computer science knowledge as well as transportable skills like creative thinking and communication. Whether they’re creating an online art gallery or using automation to process and analyze DNA-sequence data, PLTW Computer Science Principles students are seeing how their learning connects to the real world.
PLTW: Computer Science Principles is a new course at SHS, taught by Sheila Mumford, that aims to develop computational thinking, generate excitement about career paths that utilize computing, and introduce professional tools that foster creativity and collaboration among students. Computer Science Principles helps students develop programming expertise and explore the workings of the Internet. Projects and problems throughout the year include: app development, visualization of data, cybersecurity, and simulation. 
A recent class project brought the kids’ experience in developing an online game using a program called Scratch. Students worked as a team where they had the opportunity to become consumers and creators. First, as consumers, each group articulated the kind of game and online experience they wanted developed.  Then, as creators, teams were assigned clients/projects from fellow classmates. Teams worked together to develop and program a game to meet their fellow classmates’ requirements. Junior Gavyn Halseth enjoyed the assignment. “It gave me a better understanding on how to work with people,” said Halseth.  “It was good practice in communicating--we had to be told what to do and tell what we did.”  After completion, each team presented to the class their final product. 
Sophomore Maverick Steinhoff likes the way this class is structured. “The class gives us the freedom to do things the way we want to,” said Steinhoff. “Instead of everyone in the class making the same game, we have the artistic freedom to create it. ” Steinhoff also enjoys working in groups. “If we think of a feature, there’s two of us to go at different angles to figure it out.” 
PLTW is recognized by the College Board as an endorsed provider of curriculum and professional development for AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP).