Computer science and creative technology is part of the curriculum in the Lower School and now provides two options at GCSE. We consider computer science to be the fourth science; it is a discipline with established techniques and thinking skills that will last students a lifetime. It is important that students are given the chance to learn the workings of the digital systems that pervade their world.
Students are introduced to computer science and creative technology in the Lower School, where they begin with an introduction to the fundamentals of computer science and move on to understanding and writing algorithms in a variety of languages including Python, p5 and Sonic Pi. All students will learn to build their own portfolio website using HTML and CSS, and use it to host their creations in virtual reality, the apps of the Adobe suite, videos, and research pieces. Electronics builds essential, practical making skills, while 3D modelling with CAD and CAM introduces students to laser cutting and 3D printing. They also gain experience with creating art, avatars and simple interactivity in virtual reality, in our state-of-the-art VR studio.
The GCSE options aim to further students’ knowledge in all areas.
In computer science, students learn to write, execute, test and debug their own programmes, using Python, Arduino C and C# for Unity 3D and VR environments. They learn about standard computer architecture, as well as the latest chip developments, networking and internet technologies, logic, binary maths and the digitisation of data. They will also gain an appreciation of current and emerging computing technologies; the benefits of their use, their potential risks and their ethical implications. Students will develop their making skills with a practical robotics project, and also have time for a substantial individual project, as well as a piece of research into an area of their own interest.
In creative technology, students will be writing, executing, testing and debugging their own programmes, using Javascrript based p5, Sonic Pi and Bolt for Unity 3D and VR environments. They will learn about standard computer architecture and how it is optimised for graphics, human computer interaction. They will also gain an appreciation of current and emerging creative technologies; the benefits of their use, their potential risks and their ethical implications. Students will develop their making skills with a practical project on creative, interactive installations, and also have time for a substantial individual project, as well as a piece of research into an area of their own interest.
At KS5, in the first year of senior school (VII/ Year 12), girls can choose to follow a year-long elective course of two hours a week, where they work with university or industry experts in their field of interest. This year, we are offering electives in AI and machine learning; architecture; 3D environments creation and programming; algo-raves and sound programming; or mechatronics for robotics. The unique AI and machine learning course has been developed in conjunction with experts from Imperial College, and enables pupils to use their excellent A level mathematics skills to make meaningful forays into the fascinating fields of AI and ML. This interest is mirrored by our students in the 3D environments elective, who are investigating AI in visualised sound in 3D environments, while others are exploring interactive games in 3D spaces. Our students on the sound electives will program music live at an event later in the year. These students, and experts they are working alongside, are pioneering journeys into these technologies in a way that will enable them to stand out and communicate about their interests from uniquely informed perspectives when going on to future endeavours.
At St Paul’s we are lucky to have superb facilities for computer science and creative technology. This includes: two dedicated computer rooms, one of which is available to the girls to use during all breaks; a well-equipped Maker Space containing 11 3D printers, one of which prints in clay; a CNC milling machine; a large laser cutter; and all the hand and power tools and electronics supplies anyone would need. Our VR studio holds seven VR stations with headsets, controllers and six degrees of freedom each, as well as further VR enabled machines with three degrees of freedom. In addition, we have excellent onsite IT technical support and school wide Wi-Fi supporting a ‘bring your own device policy’.