Computer Science Pure and Simple Curriculum
"I wish Tom was as excited about math and history as he is about computer!... It's great to have a lesson that he thinks is just plain fun!"-- Becky Ascough, Lecanto, FL
When planning your curriculum for the year, don't forget to include the essential skill, computer science. Avoid gaps in your child's education, and prepare your child for the 21st century. You'll be able to relax knowing you have done your job.
Thousands of homeschool families have used this curriculum, including Tammy Zilinski of East Dundee, IL, who said, "Your course has been extremely helpful for us and I’m thankful that you have written it!!" See what others are saying about it!
What are the prerequisites?
Computer Science Pure and Simple students (ages 12-18) need to prepare with some keyboarding. They need to prepare with a little practice in how to use a word processor on their own. In addition, an available adult must be comfortable using a word processor, saving files, searching the Internet, and using email. CSPS students must be old enough to understand the abstract concept of variables, something that normally occurs at around age 12 or 13.
What is Logo?
Logo is a computer language designed to teach kids reasoning skills. It gives kids feedback that delights them.
The kids command a tiny robot turtle carrying a pen and a bucket. They tell it where to go on the page, giving commands like forward 50 (go forward 50 turtle steps). The turtle draws lines as commanded and dumps colors. For animations, the turtle assumes a variety of shapes.
Not only is Logo great for teaching reasoning to young kids, but it has all the bells and whistles of a robust programming language, including parallel processing. So it's a natural for teaching game programming. Skills learned on it transfer easily to other languages. In fact there are many computer professionals out there who got started by learning Logo. To find one, just ask around! My curriculum uses Logo as formulated in MicroWorlds software.
Book 1, Second Edition (spiral bound, 8 1/2 x 11 inches, 145 pages including answer key) provides a comprehensive introduction to:
- Beginning programming using the Logo language as found in MicroWorlds software, creating drawings and animations. See a video tour: a student's drawing and animation.
- HTML (Web page language) using Notepad, Windows accessory software already on your computer. Create a Web page (see a video tour) and make simple Web pages using free trial software Cool Page. (See a page from the book.)
- Office applications: word processor and spread sheet (something like Word and Excel must be already installed on your computer). Learn to format a newsletter and work with the spreadsheet.
Book 2, Second Edition (age 14 and up, spiral bound, 8 1/2 x 11 inches, 176 pages including answer key) provides more work on:
- Programming using Logo, combining what we have learned to create simple games. (See a page.)
Take a look at some student work. Note that your child's will no doubt look quite different from these.
- A multi-page Web site, and advice about how to put it on the Internet (using a free shareware software download). See a video tour of a fourth-grader's site. See a page.
- Programming spreadsheets (spreadsheet application such as Excel already installed on your computer. See a video tour. See a page.
Do you worry about exposing your child to violent computer games? Using Computer Science Pure and Simple Book 2, your child can create his own games!
How do we make these games?
Here's a line of code from a maze game:
when [colorunder = 15] [announce [sorry, you lose!]]
(For programming parents, here are the skills we learn: looping, incrementing, if-then statements, if-then-else, use of variables, starting with diagrams, and so on--the usual tools of programming.)
Take a look at our Gallery of student projects. To see the projects you will need to download and install a MicroWorlds browser plugin. (It's easy to do!)
Do you worry about allowing your child Internet access?
Here are some safeguards you can take, outlined in the books:
- Install a filter such as Covenant Eyes, NetNanny, or SafeEyes.
- Direct your kids to use www.surfsafely.com as a search engine.
- Share your email account with them (as opposed to their having their own).
- Keep the computer in a well-used room.
What about tech support?
- I have tutorials to get you started.
- Check the appendix on troubleshooting and the HTML guide in the back of the book.
- Look at my FAQ on the Support page.
- If all that fails, email me with your question at info "at" motherboardbooks.com. I answer emails as soon as I can, normally within a day.
The third component of the curriculum is the MicroWorlds disk. This is provided by a Canadian company, LCSI, that worked closely with Logo's creators at MIT, and sells to top-quality schools around the world.
(What if you want to add the book for younger children, Logo Adventures, to your order?
Order below one of the Computer Science Pure and Simple Curriculums, which includes a disk, and then also buy just a Logo Adventures book from the Logo Adventures page.)
Shipping: Flat rate $9.99 for USPS Priority Mail to United States addresses. Those outside the U.S., please place your order and expect an email with quote for additional postage charge.