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Introduction to Computer Science and Engineering

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Open to: Grades 3 - 6

Eligibility: CTY-level or Advanced CTY-level math score required

Prerequisites: Students should complete the basic computer skills placement test to identify what areas they need to review before registering for this course. A strong grasp of the English language is recommended.

Course Format: Individually PacedSee calendar for session dates and application deadlines.

Course Length: Typically 3 months

Course Code: ICE

Course Description


Introduction to Computer Science and Engineering encourages students to utilize their problem-solving skills and creativity as they become familiar with the principles of both scientific engineering and computer programming. The first half of this course covers the concepts of the scientific method, electricity, circuits, and related content. The second half introduces students to Scratch Programming and basic computer programming concepts such as statements, loops, and if-then logic. Using a Makey Makey board as their tool, students will apply their knowledge of scientific engineering and computer science to produce such projects as controlling Scratch programs by completing wired circuits. Students will progress through each unit on their own, but parent involvement for most unit projects is expected. All projects and instrument set-up is thoroughly explained in documentation and video demonstration so students will have varying degrees of independence based on age and experience.

By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the relationship between engineering and computer science. The culminating learning experience will be a multi-part project in which students develop a hypothesis, write out the lab procedure, execute their plan, and record results.

This course does not have any synchronous class meetings, but students may schedule one-on-one virtual meetings directly with the instructor to answer questions or concerns.

Students may be invited to interact in CTY community spaces that include students and instructors and potentially specially invited guests that are not enrolled in their course. Videos from YouTube or other web providers may be present in the course. Video recommendations or links provided at end of videos are generated by the video host provider and are not CTY recommendations. Student contributions (e.g., projects, forum posts, etc.) may remain in the course after the student completes the course. These artifacts may be preserved to showcase student work or to continue important conversations.

Materials Needed

View the Complete Materials List (PDF)

Many items are just suggestions and can be adapted to whatever items you have on hand, in the basement, or in the recycling bin. Unless there are no other ways to accomplish a task, being creative with your materials use is encouraged- so don’t feel like this list is exhaustive!

Please look ahead and plan accordingly to get any materials you don’t already have at home or cannot substitute with another item. You may wish to place an order online or shop all at once by looking ahead to future units, or you may opt to purchase a few items at a time, unit by unit. Another option you have is to order a customized lab kit from Quality Science Labs.

The kit contains the following items:

  • Variety of batteries (1 each AAA, C, 9-volt, Disc/Button 3-6 volt, etc.)
  • 20’ of ~16 gauge wire
  • One 3v buzzer
  • Three LED lights any color
  • Three latex balloons of any size
  • 8” 10-16 gauge pure copper wire
  • Four zinc plated nails (or similar)
  • Two ~2”x4” pieces of sandpaper
  • 1.5-3v motor

Please note: the kit includes several scientific items but students will still be responsible for providing their own perishable and commonly available household items.

In each unit’s list of items, those with an asterisk (such as wire) will be reused. If you do not want to dismantle projects to reuse some parts, you may choose to purchase more than the recommended amounts.

MaKey MaKey
*Order or Buy your MakeyMakey Classic now to allow for shipping time if necessary.


Detailed Course Information

Course Information

Introduction to Engineering

  • A brief history of Engineering
  • Defining Engineering and Careers   
  • The Scientific Method

Electric Charge and Force

  • Electric Charge and Force
  • Atoms and Subatomic Particles
  • Transfer of Electric Charge
  • Electric Force
  • Potential Energy, Voltage and Current

Electric Circuits

  • Circuits
  • Schematic Diagrams
  • Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Introduction to Scratch and MakeyMakey

  • Setting up the MaKey MaKey
  • Pressing the Space Bar
  • Revisiting Conductivity
  • Sampling Insulators and Conductors
  • Introduction to Scratch
  • Making your Sprite Work
  • Using the MaKey MaKey to Control Scratch

Using MaKey MaKey with Scratch

  • Revisiting how MaKey MaKey works
  • Introduction to Loops
  • Using Loops with MaKey MaKey
  • Extended Projects with Loops

Extended Projects with MaKey MaKey and Scratch

  • If-then statements and Boolean expressions
  • If-then-Else statements
  • Conditional Statements inside Forever Loops
  • Other Conditional Statement Blocks

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Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

Zoom online virtual classroom
This course uses an online virtual classroom which can be used for instructor-student communication if the student has any questions about the course or curriculum. The classroom works on standard computers with the Zoom desktop client and also tablets or handhelds that support the Zoom Mobile app. Students will need a computer with the Zoom desktop client installed to watch any recorded meetings. The Zoom desktop client and Zoom Mobile App are both available for free download.

Most course lectures may be viewed on mobile devices, but in some cases assignments and quizzes must be completed on a desktop or laptop computer.

Chromebooks are not recommended due to required downloading of specialized software.