Students collaborate in an Upper School Computer Science Course


Computer Science

Code. Problem Solve. Innovate. Create Change.

Video: Computer Science at Menlo

Computer Science builds a strong foundation of skills that will enable and empower our students to make positive and meaningful change in their world.

From Scratch to BASH, we teach students to believe in themselves as Computer Scientists, programmers, communicators, and puzzlers. To do this, we create belonging. We believe all students deserve to flourish in Computer Science at Menlo, and we encourage any student to give Computer Science a try, even if they feel they have no experience or aptitude. Research shows that many students tend to underestimate their ability in computer science: we counteract this with welcoming environments, peer support, and encouragement. To this end, all CS courses participate in our annual Puzzle Day in the fall and the CS Fair in the spring. We also facilitate one of the largest organized peer-tutoring programs on campus.

In CS at Menlo, students build confidence through authentic intellectual challenges requiring logic, creativity, and ownership. At the same time, we believe that courses are best taught with a genuine sense of joy and humor. We inspire a passion for puzzling through collaborative, creative problem-solving.
When we do our job well, students look back on their CS classes and tell themselves, “CS was tough, but I did it. And it was fun, too. Anytime I come across Computer Science again, I’ll be ready for it because I know I won’t be alone in it.”

Upper School Computer Science Course Offerings

Grade: 9101112

CS1: Computer Science 1

Assuming no previous experience with computers or computer programming, CS1 introduces students to the infinite possibilities of computer science and the art of programming. Students will use multiple programming languages to learn to think algorithmically and solve problems efficiently. Programs and projects are inspired by real-world applications of computer science to the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. To end the year, CS1 culminates in a gratifying final project: a highlight of many students’ coding experiences at Menlo. CS1 is offered Pass/No Pass, rather than for a letter grade. 

Watch a video about Computer Science at Menlo here.

Watch a video overview of this course here.

Prerequisites: None

Grade: 101112

CS2 (H): Data Structures & Algorithms

Building off of the foundation laid in CS1, CS2 dives deeper into the field of computer science while expanding students’ programming skills. Students begin the year learning Java, one of the most popular and important programming languages. Students will learn about new topics, such as classes, objects, inheritance, and recursion. As the year progresses, CS2 challenges students to work on progressively larger and more creative programming projects. This culminates in the final project: a month-long endeavor to design and program a video game complete with mouse and keyboard input. In addition, students will be given significant preparation for the AP Computer Science A exam.

Watch a video about Computer Science at Menlo here.

With some independent preparation, students who take this course may feel equipped to take the AP Computer Science A exam.

Prerequisite: CS1

Grade: 101112

App Design & Development

In App Design and Development, students learn how to build apps that solve real problems for real people. The course focuses on iOS app programming, using the language Swift to build applications for iPhone or iPad. The course teaches students to program in Xcode, the same platform that real Swift programmers use daily. Students also learn to use graphics editors to design app layout and user interface. As the course progresses, students build multiple apps, each more complex than the last. The course culminates in the design and creation of an original app to be published in the App Store.

Prerequisite: CS1

Grade: 1112

Advanced Topics in Computer Science (H)

In Advanced Topics, students begin applying their programming skills in a truly project-driven course. After taking at least two years of computer science at Menlo, students are ready to tackle applications fields of computer science such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, cybersecurity, and more. While engaging with these new topics, students learn new programming languages—such as Javascript and SQL—while working with advanced data structures and algorithms. Choice plays a big role in the class, as students spend significant periods of time working in teams on a variety of ambitious programming projects. Topics vary from year to year, so the course may be taken more than once.

Watch a video about Computer Science at Menlo here.

Prerequisite: CS2, or App Design and permission from instructor

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