Computer Science Workshop

I’ve been holding off writing this post because the computer science workshop didn’t actually happen. It was scheduled for October 24, and I had everything planned, but no girls showed up! It was the last workshop and I was so excited to do a fun wrap-up with the girls, but no one came. I was a little disappointed, but I totally understood that it was nothing against me. Before the workshops officially started, the librarian braced me for nobody showing up. She said it would not necessarily be because of what I was doing, but most likely because there would be a lot of sports games or other club meetings. I was lucky that it was only the last workshop that no one came to, and that for every other one I had a steady number of either 4 or 8 girls.

Since I was not able to do this workshop “in person”, I figured I might as well share my plans with all of you! Hopefully someone will get some use out of it 🙂

For my beginning, I planned to talk about Ada Lovelace and give a brief intro into computer science:

How many have heard of computer science? Basically, computer science and computer programming deals with telling a computer how to run. It is building the software from the computer so it knows how to react when certain buttons are pressed. 

Do you understand how computer science works? Just like humans speak different languages, there are many different languages computers understand. There are so many different computer programming languages out there and you can program a computer in anyone of them. Just like human languages, the same action can be represented by different names. Today instead of delving into the different languages we are going to focus on one of the underlying parts of computer programming: binary. Data in computers is stored in a sequence of zeros and ones. 

Does anyone in your family work in the computer science industry?

I was also bringing in a fan used to cool down a computer, and two circuit boards, one from a telephone and one from a CPU, to show the girls what goes on inside our electronics.

The first activity I had planed was binary cards. Bascially, I had 2 sets of 6 index cards, and the index cards either had 1 dot, 2 dots, 4 dos, 8 dots, or 16 dots. I wanted the girls to recognize the pattern that each card had double the amount of dots as the next. After, I was going to explain how binary works by flipping the cards over. If the dots were showing, that was represented by a one, and if the dots were not showing, that was represented by a zero. After seeing where all the ones and zeros are, the girls would add them up to see what the binary numbers represented. If there was a 0 for 16 dots , a 1 for 8 dots, a 1 for 4 dots, a 0 for 2 dots, and a 1 for 1 dots, that would make the number 13 because when there is a 1 one for a particular number place, that number is “turned on” and is counted, if there is a 0 , that number is “turned off” and does not count. After the girls understood this concept, I was going to ask them to use the cards to make different numbers for me.

The next activity I planned was binary worksheets. I printed two worksheets from a website(http://csunplugged.org/) and I hate not being able to give credit, but I have them in PDF form and am not able to attach them so you can see the actual worksheets 😦 However, the first worksheet was about sending secret messages. Tom was trapped in a department store and decided to send a message for help using binary through the Christmas tree lights. The worksheet provided lines of binary with boxes up to 16 and when there was a Christmas tree in a box that meant the number was turned off. The worksheet provided a number that corresponed with each letter of the alphabet, and the girls would get that number by adding the binary numbers of each line. Hence, each line represented a letter.

The other worksheet I printed was about E-mail and modems. It explained how comuters use binary, a high-pitched beep for 1 and a low-pitched beep for 0. The sounds go by really fast that they only accumulate to the screeching sound we here when a modem is connecting to the internet. The worksheet posed the task to the girls that using the same message as Tom, they were to send an email message to their partner through the way computers send messages with the sounds.

If we had more time, I was going to do the “shifting pyramids” checkers game. I think it is best explained on this website: http://www.sugaraunts.com/2015/07/checkers-math-pre-coding-without-app.html

At the end of the workshop, I planned to share the different careers in computer science:

App Developer

Software Architect

Computer Systems Analyst

  • Analyze data processing problems to improve computer systems
  • Develop and test system design procedures
  • Enhance system compatibility so information can be shared easily

Computer Programmer

  • Create and test the code that allows computers to run properly
  • Analyze user needs and develop software solutions
  • Write computer programs to store, locate or retrieve data

Web Developer

  • Write, design or edit web page content, or direct others producing content
  • Identify and correct problems uncovered by testing or user feedback
  • Back up website files for immediate recovery in case of problems

I was also going to share some fun facts-

Only 8% of the world’s currency is physical money, the rest only exists on computers.

Mary Kenneth Keller, the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science in the United States also earned a Master’s degree in Mathematics and Physics, helped develop computer programming languages and she was a Catholic nun.

 In 1936, the Russians made a computer that ran on water.

Computers used to take up an entire room. 

If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest in the world.

To close, I was going to share the tales of Grace Murray Hopper and Annie Easely.

Well, that’s what I had planned for the computer science workshop! I hope maybe it inspired you to explore computer science more!

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