Computer Programming/Computer Science

Computer Studies at St Stephen invites students to learn how to write code to solve a variety of problems using industry-standard programming languages.   We start by examining program requirements (e.g. IPO chart with focus on OUTPUT first) and apply programming structures (e.g. sequence, decision, loops) and data structures (e.g. arrays) to solve a software challenge.

The journey starts in Grade 10 (or Grade 9 if requested) to learn a systems approach to unpacking a problem and review the steps or algorithm to solve a programming task.  The ICS20/TEJ20 Introduction to Computer Programming and Computer Technology course gives students an opportunity to write code to drive hardware with Lego robotics and Arduino microcontrollers.  They will see first hand that “output” is not restricted to what we see on a computer screen but can also be the movement and behaviour of a robot or the response of sensors, LED or DC motor on a microcontroller.

Learning to code is a critical digital skill in a world where artificial intelligence, big data, analytics, VR, game development, electronic vehicles and online applications are creating opportunities for young people with a gift for writing code and solving problems.

Following the Grade 10 course, students can continue to expand their programming skills at both the college and university pathways.  Grade 11 (ICS3C) and Gr 12 (ICS4C) college programming features the study of Python.  Python is a popular programming framework and is used extensively at colleges and in industry.   Students can import external libraries like pygame to design games and other applications.

For those who are on a university pathway they can study object-oriented programming (OOP) techniques featuring Java in Grade 11 Intro to Computer Science (ICS3U) and Grade 12 Computer Science (ICS4U).  They will learn to write and manipulate software objects to solve problems with different design considerations including encapsulation, composition, inheritance and polymorphism.  We transform our Lego robots into Java-coded robots and see how sensors and motors can be driven by software written in Java. After this hands-on unit students can see how autonomous cars like the Tesla operate.

Computer programming students can be invited to compete in the Ontario Tech University’s Robotics Competition ( in November where our teams get to test their code and robot designs against over 50 schools across the province.  We have been competing every year since 2012 and the students have a great time.

In recent years, we have added physical computing or the programming of microcontrollers like the Arduino to the program to design custom DIY projects involving PC electronic components.   Students can test their circuit designs or “sketches” in TinkerCAD prior to working directly with wires, breadboards and electronic components. This gives our young programmers a chance to see what goes on “under the hood” of contemporary electronics (e.g. PlayStation, smartphones) and may get some excited by the possibilities offered in computer and electrical engineering.

The feedback from graduates studying computers, IT and engineering at the college and university has been very positive and our focus on OOP has prepared students well for coding challenges after high school.

Programming students who study 3 senior (Gr.11/12) ICT credits are eligible to earn a FIT (Focus on Information Technology) certificate upon graduation and is a nice addition to a resume.   Please see Mr McDaniel or Guidance for more information.

We encourage girls to consider the art of programming and writing software because industry is very interested in promoting the female voice in software design and especially in the game development industry.

It is a great time to learn to code and we all know the impact programmers have on society when we log into Facebook, do online banking or drive an electronic vehicle in the future.   Both Grade 11 programming courses are open and do not have prerequisites for Grade 10 and senior students. If you are in Grade 8 or 9 then simply register for the ICS20/TEJ20 program in Career Cruising and start the journey today.