Want a fun and useful Area 5 class? Sign up for CS-1014, a new course on "Computational Thinking" that will give you a valuable 21st century skill. This is more than learning how to type or using Word; it's learning how to solve messy, real-world problems with the power of computers! No final exam, collaborative learning experiences, and lot's of useful material! This is a great class for you.

Everyone Should Learn to Code

Why should I take it?

This class is designed to be practical and fun; you're going to learn a skill and a new way of thinking. You will solve problems relevant to your own major. You will create visualizations to explain data that you find interesting. You will work with computational models that you choose.

But more than that, this will be valuable to your career. All of the best jobs in the future will require some Computational Thinking skills, according to Forbes

Also, it satisfies an Area 5 requirement (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning)!

Who says it's any good?

Here are student testimonials from the latest course:

  • "I really enjoyed this course. I felt very respected by my instructors and that they really wanted me to succeed. I really enjoyed how this class was structured with a real focus on learning and not just testing. It allowed me to not have to feel penalized by mistakes and that I really had the freedom to learn without the pressures of exams."
  • "I thoroughly enjoyed this course. I was happy to come to class every Tuesday and Thursday, and I really enjoyed working with my cohort. The work that was done was challenging, but completely doable. The teachers and TA's offered great help, and answered every question that I had to the fullest."
  • "Computational Thinking might not be my forte, but I sure learned a lot about it throughout this course!"
  • "This course is awesome and I have recommended it to all my friends. I felt this course exemplifies how education should work, engaging people in a way that is fun and not too stressful, while still teaching a ton of information."
  • "I originally signed up for it to fulfill Area 5, or one of my Area 5, and also it sounded like fun...I got an email about this class and it sounded really fun, and instead of just fulfilling an Area 5, it was like, "You get to do a project that is in your own major," and all this kind of stuff you get to do is very individual-based. I really liked the appeal of that so I ended up switching into this one. I feel like it's good skills to have in an increasingly technological society."
  • "I liked it more than I thought I would!! And the staff was very very helpful."

Who is it for?

All undergraduates, in all majors - science, humanities, art, agriculture... Everyone!

This course is for people who have never programmed before - even if they have no idea what "Computational Thinking" is. The difficulty will be appropriate for someone who doesn't have any prior experience with programming. Don't worry if it all sounds intimidating; we're making this accessible for everyone!

The only people who can't take it are Computer Science majors - but we're counting on you to spread the word anyway!

When is it?

This Fall (2017), the new course is being offered to over 60 students. Sign up as soon as you can!

What exactly will we do in the class?

The first half of the course will be all about big ideas in Computational Thinking - using abstractions and algorithms. Then you'll get a practical introduction to programming - the tool that Computer Scientists use to make computers work. The second half of the course will have you work on a project of your own devising related to your interests and career goals. This project will vary significantly from student to student - for instance, biologists may work with genomic data sets to answer interesting data-oriented questions, English majors might analyze historical texts for interesting patterns, and artists might create beautiful visualizations from real-time data streams like Twitter. Throughout this project, you'll interact with your classmates, learn some of the popular and powerful Python programming language, and find out the breadth and scope of what Computational Thinking means!

Projects done previous semesters:

  • Mapping and analyzing the records of airports and Medal of Honor recipients
  • Investigating data on car fuel economy, hydropower dams, and childhood mortality
  • Studying words in movie scripts and Wikipedia pages to see how gender is used
  • And many others!
The videos below demonstrate some of the projects that were created by real students:

Substance Abuse in U.S. Adolescents


HIV Rates Based On Economic Development and Gender

Language Games: Tracing Language Constructs between Multiple Genres


The class has even been featured by the VT Library!

Computational Thinking Exhibition

I want more details!

Course: CS-1014
Title: Intro to Comp Thinking
Type: 3-credit lecture
Instructor: DG Kafura (kafura@cs.vt.edu)
Time: 2:00pm - 3:15pm
Day: Tuesday/Thursday
Semester: Fall 2016
Location: NCB 210
CRN: 88566