Academic Insights: TCS Computer Studies Department

Grade 12 Students Work on Stop Motion Videos

This school year at Trinity College School has not been without its challenges. Masks, physical distancing in classrooms, online students bridging in, overflow rooms and fully online classes have called for teachers to be especially creative and flexible in order to provide students with productive and fulfilling classroom experiences.

Thankfully, the computer studies classrooms are large and equipped with a plethora of helpful technology. Thus, our teachers were largely able to deliver the quality of curriculum students have come to expect. And despite the challenges mentioned, the department made efforts to evolve and grow, responding to student needs and technological trends.

Within the computer science stream, we observed that more female students are entering programming courses than ever before. Female participation in computer science has been a focus across education and the industry in recent years, and TCS has been at the forefront. The recent decision to make ICS2O (Introduction to Computer Science) the entry point for Grade 9 students has paid dividends. TCS recently received the Female Diversity Award from the College Board, given to schools that have achieved at least 50% female enrolment in the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles course (ICS2O). In addition, almost a third of Grade 11 and Grade 12 programmers are female, some of whom will be receiving prestigious computer science awards on Speech Day. TCS is clearly making great strides in closing the gender gap in computer science!

Even within the online environment, TCS students were able to enrich their programming experience by entering several computer science competitions, including CanHack, the Canadian Computing Competition and the CoderZ Sprint Robotics Challenge. These were well-attended and produced much buzz within the student body. We hope to build on the success at these competitions by entering even more next year, as they have been shown to be very popular among our budding computer scientists!

In our communications technology courses, students were very busy using technology to produce fine digital work. Students in the Grade 10 course jumped on the viral Bernie Sanders meme to produce some hilarious personal memes of their own, using popular movie sets as backdrops. Students in the Grade 11 course, despite not having the ability to use the department’s cameras, were able to continue their journey in marrying technology and design. Students expanded their mastery of photographic composition, and learned the intricacies of digital camerawork to create breathtaking products. Finally, our Grade 12 students explored a plethora of digital media, including podcasting, logo design, stop motion and videography, producing some incredible work that we proudly displayed on our hallway TV outside our classrooms.

While much of our effort has been dedicated to adapting to our new teaching and learning environment, the computer studies department has taken time to audit our course offerings. This periodic review helps to assess the strengths and weaknesses of our program and provides a springboard for implementing new initiatives. Meeting student technological needs and forecasting what skills will be useful for them in the near future is our priority and is always top of mind. This year’s assessment proved enlightening to the department and showcased one area of need in particular: 3D design. While we have been using our 3D printers to complement other courses, most notably physics, and supporting Team X, our tech club, it hasn’t been a prominent feature of our courses in computer studies. We are excited by the prospect of embedding 3D design (and printing!) into our Grade 10 and Grade 11 Communication Technology courses next year. We will certainly need to find a suitable display set-up to show off all our amazing student prints!

Computer studies continues to be a place where technology meets creativity. With the number of students in our program growing each year, it is clear our little corner of the School is the place to be!

- By Mr. Sasha Vojnov, head of computer studies