The Dawson Distinction in Coding and Innovation is a special recognition for those students who have excelled at programming and have used computers and technology to build exceptional creations. Computers are disrupting our society at every level, so some knowledge of how to code a computer has become as essential as the ability to write a grammatically correct sentence or understand algebraic syntax.  To encourage mastery in computer science and innovation, Dawson will honor student achievement in these areas. In addition to a distinction on their transcript, each student will finish the program with an impressive portfolio of projects.

The Dawson Distinction in Coding and Innovation will be awarded at graduation and is designed to:
  • Acknowledge students who have achieved a significant level of ability in computer science.
  • Encourage students to learn how to code and use computers in a productive, innovative way.
  • Inspire students to think like coders: to be creative, to pull apart a concept and put it back together in new ways, and to joyfully leap into projects on subjects they know nothing about.
Distinction in Coding and Innovation: Program Details
To earn the Distinction in Coding and Innovation, students must:
  • Complete five major projects related to programming. Possible projects include:
    • Building an interactive website
    • Designing the art for another programmer’s application
    • Creating an interactive, Arduino-controlled artistic sculpture
    • Developing the AI structure for the RC Dawson robot
    • Managing the business and marketing for a group of programmers
  • Present completed major projects to the Dawson Community, as well as a panel of judges at a Distinction in Coding and Innovation Showcase. Students must be able to clearly communicate goals and outcomes of each major project and have a tangible product to display and discuss with visitors, including the panel. Major projects should reflect a meaningful investment of time, effort, and learning.
  • Complete eight enhanced assignments, for which students augment their work in any of their classes through the use of computer programming. These enhancements might include programming a simulation, animating a math problem, building an interactive website, etc. Students beginning the program as freshmen should complete one enhanced assignment each semester. Students beginning the program after ninth grade will still be required to complete eight such projects, and will need to complete more than one per semester.
  • Demonstrate mastery of at least four programming languages, including Java and Javascript, as well as two languages (Arduino, Python, C, C++, Scratch, etc.) of their own choosing
  • Complete four semesters of upper school classes related to computer science and innovation. These courses currently include:
    • * AP Computer Science (2 semesters). Must pass AP exam with a 3 or better or earn an average of 90 or higher in the class for both semesters.
    • Programming I
    • Game Design
    • App Development
    • Inventing with Technology
    • Physics & Design : Introduction to Engineering
    • Digital Art

      * All students in Distinction in Coding and Innovation program must take the full year AP Computer Science course.
Distinction in Coding and Innovation Application Process

Students interested in pursuing the Distinction in Coding and Innovation must apply to take part in the program.

After submitting the application, students will meet with the Director of Technology to set goals for the coming year and make sure they are set up for success in the program.

Topics for the initial meeting:
  • Technology courses completed to date and plans for future coursework
  • Major projects completed to date and plans for upcoming projects
  • Enhanced projects completed to date and plans for potential projects to integrate into other classes this year
  • Current mastery of computer languages/skills and plans for new areas in which to work
Each semester, students will have an opportunity to present any of their completed major projects at a Distinction in Coding and Innovation Showcase. Students will meet with the Director of Technology about two weeks before the Showcase to make sure the student is on track and ready to present.

Please contact Jeff Ellenbogen, Director of Technology, with any questions about this program. 303-665-6679 x498.