Academic Insights: TCS Computer Studies Department

Video game created by Grade 10 student

Normally at this time of year, the computer studies wing at Trinity College School is alive with sights and sounds of the exciting culminating projects undertaken by the students in both the communication technology and computer science courses. Budding photographers would be swarming our campus as spring blooms, capturing the awesome beauty of our buildings and trees. The computer scientists would be playing with their robots in the hallways, testing them on obstacles and programming them to play sounds, pick up objects and navigate courses. It is typically the most exciting time of the year in the department, as we showcase our projects to the wider school community, on our hallway TV or during flex time events.

Alas, our new normal has hampered our ability to work hands-on in our usual group setting and display our students’ fine work. But it hasn’t hampered our students’ enthusiasm for their projects or their quality! Culminating projects are underway in all courses, and once completed we will be sure to find creative ways to showcase our students’ talents.

In our computer science courses, students are engaged in projects that utilize their impressive programming skills. In ICS2O, our Introduction to Computer Science course, students are busy building their own apps, using the Code.org programming environment. They have the flexibility to choose their own topic, and some students are using their newfound coding skills to produce some highly sophisticated applications!

In Grade 11 Computer Science, students have embarked on the “Choose Your Own Adventure” portion of the course. During the school year, students have been learning essential programming constructs that are transferrable to any language or environment. Now, they can choose any platform they wish to create an application of interest to them. Some are creating video games using Greenfoot or Unity, some are building Android apps, and a few are building electronic devices using their own Arduino microprocessors. It is always exciting to see these projects come to life, and this year’s crop looks promising!

After writing their Advanced Placement exam last Friday, the AP Computer Science wizards are engaged in creating the A.I. (artificial intelligence) for a robot video game. Students are in charge of deciding how their bot will engage with the other students’ bots in the game, including dodging, shooting and chasing. Once they are done battle-testing their bot, we will pit them all together in a final showdown to see whose is dominant!

Within our communication technology stream, students are putting the finishing touches on their major culminating projects. In TGJ2O, Grade 10 Communication Technology, students are combining what they’ve learned in the course to produce a short video. Design principles, photo manipulation, audio editing and video editing skills will all be put to the test as our young tech gurus put together a sophisticated video showcasing their work.

The Grade 11 Communication Technology course has primarily focused on photography and photo editing skills this year, and typically during this time students can be seen building their portfolios with breathtaking pictures from around campus. While campus shots are not in the cards at the moment, they have shifted to producing a portfolio closer to home, which offers other interesting possibilities. The department looks forward to showing off our budding photographers’ work in the fall!

Finally, our Grade 12 course, which expands on our students’ technical skills and takes them into new domains, like podcasting and video production, will be looking to create a video production that centres around the theme “Life during Coronavirus.” It will be fascinating to see how our students blend their formidable creativity and production skills with such topical subject matter.

The department will endeavour to find creative and engaging ways to showcase our students’ talent and pave the way for future programmers and tech enthusiasts!

Finally, while the computer classrooms have been quiet, the department’s 3D printer has been buzzing for the past few weeks, busily printing parts for face shields. Mr. Peter Mao, a member of the service learning department, has taken the initiative to build and donate face shields for frontline workers in the Port Hope area. With a little guidance from the computer studies department, he has been able to produce more than a dozen shields, and hopefully many more in the coming weeks. They have all been donated to frontline workers at local seniors’ homes, Extendicare and Roseglen Village, and have been met with enthusiasm and much appreciation!

- By Mr. Sasha Vojnov, head of computer studies