The Octagon

Old math classroom converted into state-of-the-art computer science lab


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Elise Sommerhaug
Eighteen new iMacs sit on temporary tables in Room 1. The new tables have not arrived, so folding tables have been set up in preparation for Back-to-School night.

From stained carpets and old tables to 18 new iMacs and a touch-screen TV, Room 1, previously math teacher Patricia Jacobsen’s classroom, has been transformed into an interactive learning environment.

Since early July, new computer science teachers Fred Jaravata and Shelley Hinson planned to remodel Room 1 into a state-of-the-art computer science lab.

After former director of technology Tom Wroten left the school in June, Jaravata and Hinson said they wanted a better classroom environment to teach computer science.

“The new technology in the classroom will allow physical interaction with the content,” Jaravata, who teaches AP Computer Science Principles, said.

Eighteen 24-inch iMacs will surround the classroom atop new desks. In addition, a 75-inch touch-screen TV will sit in the front of the classroom, helping students interact with the coding content and project different programming techniques, according to Jaravata.

“The computer lab will aid both the students and teachers because the teachers can walk around and easily help students,” senior Heidi Johnson, who has taken computer science for two years, said.

“The students will have nice, large monitors for coding, so not everything is squished on the small laptop screen, which is a lot more convenient.”

“I want to make learning more interesting by adding technology and expanding the community of digital learners,” Hinson, who teaches AP Computer Science A and is the director of technology, said.

Almost all of the funding for the lab came through donations from Country Day parents, according to head of high school Brooke Wells.

Jaravata said that the new technology equipment will primarily be used for learning coding program and any middle- and high-school projects.

The purpose of the computer lab is to develop the computer science classes, improve computational thinking and motivate interested students to graduate with a high level of code understanding, according to Hinson.

Johnson said that she is most looking forward to having a space that’s specifically for working with computers along with larger screens to work on.

“The vision is to have a computer science program that is not very common around the nation and to expand it by teaching multiple levels of computer science,” Wells said.

Currently, all high school students have the opportunity to use the technology in the lab. Middle school students can also use this classroom for the movie editing elective.

—By Sanjana Anand

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