Art of Computing

This class begins with MIT Media Lab's Scratch environment. Students learn how to create video games, special effects, and create computer-generated, dynamic art. Every student has their own WordPress-based website, where they can embed the programs they are creating, and blog about it. Students move on to Processing, a Java-based environment for creating high performance animations, simulations, games, visual effects, and more. This is a technologically intensive course, and students will learn to use the many tools employed by today's programmers. Students can take the course multiple times for credit, and through projects, can earn credit in other courses such as math and physics.


What might traditionally be called "computer science" is called Art of Computing at FlexTech High School. I prefer that name because much of what we do in the class (and what professionals do every day) looks like an artistic process. We think, we design, we create, we rework and refine until we are personally satisfied with our creations.

We all understand how pervasive computers have become in our lives, though we may not often be thinking about it. We know that the music we listen to, the movies we watch, the apps on our phones, and all of our communication other than face-to-face is heavily aided by computers. Even the clothes we wear and the food we eat have been designed, marketed, produced, packaged, and delivered with the assistance of computers.

In this class, you will not merely be using computers. You will teach computing devices (computers, smartphones, etc) to do what you want them to do by creating artifacts such as web pages, art (static, dynamic, and interactive), video games, and more. You will sometimes work independently, but often you will be collaborating with others. Your work will be published via your online WordPress-based portfolio.

To give you a taste of what to expect, below are some example projects.

The first uses Scratch, from MIT's Media Lab. Scratch is used to introduce key ideas we will use throughout the year. We will start with some activities from the Scratch Curriculum Guide. You will learn how to create an app similar to the one below, and then modify it using your own ideas.

Scratch Spirograph

Another early app we will create is an implementation of the old video game classic, Pong.

Pong

We will use the Processing environment to create examples of interactive art similar to Leeches, and create games like SKUNK.

By the end of course, you will have at a minimum learned how to solve problems using Scratch, Java, and Python, and you will have your own well-developed public WordPress site featuring your artistic creations. Depending on student interest and progress, we can also explore developing for technologies such as Android, iOS (e.g. Mathescope), Minecraft mods, web services, multi-touch displays, etc. It is, after all, high school defined by you.