Unplugged – What is Computer Science?


What do you want to be when you grow up Olivia?
Umm, an astronaut! Do you happen to know what a computer programmer is? Yeahh, umm, no.
Umm, what what? I’m not really sure how to explain it. Computer programming is pretty
simple. It’s a set of instructions, like a recipe. You have to follow them step by step
to get the end result you want. Computer science is a way to impact the world. It can be music
videos, it can be games, detect whether or not someone is related to someone else. Find
you know, people’s friends. You can do all sorts of other crazy things that actually
save lives. You do have to have a drive I think. It is to me like a paintbrush. I think
great programming is not all that dissimilar from great art. When I finally learned a little
bit of programming, that blank wall resolved into a bunch of doors and you open them and
of course then you find behind them is another hallway filled with a bunch of doors. Programming
is fun and easy. You can do anything your mind wants to do. Finally you start to open
enough doors the light comes in. To me a finished program is like a structure filled with light.
All the corners are illuminated. The number of people that you can touch and interact
with is something the world has never seen before. Our first lesson in this series is
all about what computer science is, what a computer scientist does and how you can be
more responsible in your use of technology. It’s a very important lesson but it is a little
text-heavy. At the end, you get to make your very own customized encoding using your initials.
It’s a fun activity and it’s very empowering because binary is one of those things that
feels very technical but once you understand it, it’s like you speak a secret language.