At what point do these two curriculums merge, and when could a math teacher in my building use the Algebra so there is the most cross-over?
I don’t expect we’ll ever merge the two curricula, as they are designed with different purposes and implementations in mind. The functional programming paradigm (meaning that programs are written using algebraic functions) of CS in Algebra is a different approach to thinking about breaking down a programming problem than we use in CSD.
That said, the two approaches can certainly be used to complement each other, and I could certainly see a lesson that transitions students from the CS in Algebra game environment into Game Lab, where they would have a higher ceiling while still having the opportunity to apply many of the functional programming approaches they learned in CS in Algebra. I’d be interested to hear from any of our CSD piloters who have also taught CS in Algebra (@pedro_uribe I’m looking at you).
I have taught and plan on continuing using the CS in Algebra course as well as CS Discoveries.
Last year, as I piloted CS Discoveries I was worried that I was going to generate confusion for the students by introducing them together but I was happy to find out that, not only did they not conflict, but actually there were areas that complemented each other.
CS in algebra does a great job helping students as they transition from the concrete arithmetic to the abstract algebra processes. The main benefit is that it supports students in slowly approaching word problems or new challenges that involve multiple representations or that require evaluating multiple solutions.
The biggest concept is the idea of function, and it is presented in a way that supports students who initially struggle by presenting it in terms that are already familiar (basic arithmetic functions), and builds up, folowing the same structure throughout, without contradict other math conventions, even as the functions become more complex.
On the other hand, CS discoveries adds not only more technical skills by offering more powerful tools and possibilities, but it also adds extensive soft skills like collaboration, communication, perseverance, etc, that transfer to other subject areas.
So, bottomline, if you teach, or know someone who teaches pre-algebra or algebra you should encourage them to use the program and introduce it as early in the school year as possible. And obviously, teaching CS Discovery to as many students as possible.
I think the overlap of concepts is benefitial, but there is also an option for CS in algebra that focuses exclusively on the math concepts and presenting the programming of a video game on a separate module (CS in A courses A and B)
I hope this helps, and please feel free to reach out if you’d like any assistance