Computer Science Outreach Materials

The following materials have been used at various times by members of the CS department at the University of Northern Iowa while conducting community outreach and preview day types of programs.  The materials posted below are publicly available for use "as is" or as starting points for additional presentations. 

Scratch half-day workshop (updated 12/2008)

Discussion Points:  After multiple offerings during spring and summer of 2008 this workshop has been modified slightly, mostly to fix programming issues in the "Luck of the Irish" game that we produce, although I have also added in a simple set of power point slides mostly as rules distribution and placeholder.

Scratch full-day workshop

Discussion Points:  The materials for this workshop were used with 23 6th graders from Price Laboratory School on May 15th, 2008.

Morning Activities consisted of

Afternoon Activities consisted of

Scratch half-day workshop

Discussion Points:  The materials for this were used with two different groups of students during the spring of 2008.  The first time was with thirty-one  4-6th graders in a 3 hour workshop during spring break of 2008.  The exact same materials were used with 25 9-12th graders from the Educational Talent Search group at UNI on May 1st, 2008.

Dyersville-Beckman visit, Spring 2008

Discussion Points:  This talk attempts to engage students in the topic of computers through the concept of steganography (hiding messages inside of media files).  It begins with a magic trick where the presenter guesses the student's "secret number" through what later turns out to be the use of binary.  This introduction to binary leads into a discussion about storing data on the computer in number format, then as characters (ASCII code), then as picture files.  Finally, we talk about using this knowledge to hide messages inside of picture files.

The talk also introduces algorithms and big-O by demonstrating an algorithm that rescales an image in half - a process that takes ~20 seconds the first time, but closer to ~5 seconds the second time.

The materials provided include a file with several python methods that work inside of JES to demonstrate the actual encoding of text inside of pictures.  Similar code could be written using the Java version of the MediaComputation materials from Georgia Tech.

Dyersville-Beckman visit, Spring 2007

Discussion Points:  This particular talk was a broad introduction to "what is computer science" where the suggested answer is "a tool (that allows people to accomplish tasks that might be difficult if not impossible without the computer)"  The talk discusses several applications of computers in the research of members of the department.  It concludes with the idea that even if students don't major in computer science they want to consider colleges where the CS faculty can teach them how to use computers as a tool in their respective discipline.