Copper country programmers: a novel curriculum for beginning programmers in middle and high school (abstract only)

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Computer Science


With the continued and alarming lack of involvement in computing among college students, attention has recently focused on engaging students at the middle and high school levels. Our "Copper Country Programmers" club began as a community outreach program to fill a gap left by the elimination of the computing curriculum in the local school district. In our club, university faculty and students provide curriculum, tools, and classroom tutoring for young novice programmers across the school district. Our curriculum teaches programming through a series of exercises involving HTML, BASIC, LOGO, and Processing (a graphics-oriented Java variant.) Contrary to some other approaches, we present students initially with a low level, bare bones programming model and development environment, then gradually increase the functionality and complexity. We find that students readily grasp the simple, transparent initial model, then experience first-hand the motivations for adding functionality (and complexity). Our cross-curricular programming topics include graphic design, interactive fiction, computer generated poetry, mathematical simulation, computational geometry, game physics, computer art, artificial intelligence, video game development, and critical thinking. We provide examples of our curriculum, student work, problems encountered, and how they were resolved.

Publication Title

SIGCSE '14: Proceedings of the 45th ACM technical symposium on Computer science education