Technology, Electives, and Capstone in High School

Technology, Electives, and Capstone (TEC) courses prepare students for the real world. Students will develop critical thinking skills, often utilizing hands on, project–based experiences in these courses. They will have opportunities to explore their own interests, while blending core academic course knowledge and applications with authentic, creative demands. Please check the grade level requirements for each course. Some are only open to students in certain grades or those who have met specific prerequisites.

Beginning with the Class of 2018, all students must complete the SAS Catalyst Project as a requirement for graduation.

TEC Courses in 2018-19

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View Other High School Courses

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Course Descriptions

Emerging Technologies

ID: 44501 Grade: 9-11 Length: Semester or Year
Credit: Elective

This semester–long survey course gives primarily underclassmen a view into design, digital fabrication, coding, and graphics at an entry level. Students explore a wide range of fundamental hands–on skills including digital sketching, fabrication using the laser cutter and 3D printer, basic app development and the interconnection of computing devices. The course is deliberately broad, spanning many of the design and technology courses currently taught at SAS, and for this reason is a good entry point into more specialized courses offered at the junior and senior level. This course is a recommended for students who have an interest in learning through discovery and working in teams while solving reality–based problems through design thinking. Students build on this course to later study 2D and 3D Graphics, Robotics, and Game Development. Students may take the course a second time if they wish to expand the knowledge, skills, and projects that they began developing during their first semester experience.

Computer Science I

ID: 44518 Grade: 9-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Algebra 1 or Math 8+

This course provides an introduction to coding and computer science principles. Students will use computational thinking strategies to design, write, and test programs in Java object oriented programming, serving as an introduction to AP Computer Science), Alice (3D animation and game programming), and to design logic circuits (how computers work at the lowest levels). This hands–on course will give students the opportunity to appreciate and understand the depth at which businesses, engineering, and our daily interactions are dependent on computer science. Students learn by carefully designing a solution (algorithm) to problems, programming, and testing/debugging. This course is designed as an exciting and unintimidating jumping off point for those who want to understand what computer science and programming are all about and how they relate to the technological world in which we live. No prior knowledge of Java or programming is required. Successful completion of the course will fulfill the prerequisite for AP Computer Science.

Mobile Application Development

ID: 44504 Grade: 9-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective

Tablet, phones, and computers all have migrated to the use of specialized programs called Applications or “Apps.” This course is designed to give students with no programming experience the opportunity to develop marketable Android mobile apps using the new Google App Maker application. Features like built-in templates, a drag-and-drop UI editor, and pointand-click data modeling let you quickly create beautiful apps. This course will be taught at the introductory level without any advanced concepts offered. Therefore, students with prior programming courses, or advanced programming skills are not allowed to select this course.

Graphic Design

ID: 44527 Grade: 10-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective

Graphic design is a part of daily life. From humble things like gum wrappers to huge things like billboards to the t–shirts people wear, graphic design is used to convey a message from a client to an audience. In this course students will learn how to use graphic design to inform, persuade ,and attract attention by creating and organizing the elements of typography, images, and the white space around them. Students will complete a variety of authentic projects that includes but is not limited to the design of posters and brochures. They will gain a solid foundation in the use of Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. This course is a complement to the Newspaper and Yearbook courses.

Digital Game Development

ID: 44517 Grade: 10-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective

Games have been around for a very long time (consider the game Senet played by the ancient Egyptians). Games were used as ways to develop physical skills (consider throwing objects at targets) or training to develop military strategies (chess) or to simply kill time while waiting for the crops to grow. Of course, creating games, and especially video games, requires more than just an idea of something that would be fun. Designers have to understand the mechanics of games, test the balance of the rules to ensure that all players have an equal opportunity to win, communicate how the game is played, and create the environment that will be used to play the game—whether a board game with dice or a computer. This course will cover the basic game development process, from design process through to playable digital and non-digital games. This will include study of game design mechanics and principles of the game design process (e.g., play balancing, testing), basic computer programming concepts, and concepts and production processes of game-related art, including background design, character design, and user interface design. Students will gain a very good sense of the game development process and the various creative and technical aspects involved.

AP Computer Science

ID: 44519 Grade: 10-12 Length: Year
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Semester I grade of B or higher in Algebra II/Trig or higher level math course; or Semester I grade of B or higher in Computer Science I; or concurrent enrollment in Algebra II/Trig or Accelerated Math II plus computer science teacher recommendation.

AP Computer Science is a full-year course designed to teach the fundamentals of programming with the Java programming language. It is designed as an accelerated first course in computer science or as a course for people who will major in other disciplines requiring significant involvement with computing. Prior knowledge of programming is not essential; although logic, math, and linguistic skills along with a strong core GPA are good indicators of success. AP Computer Science emphasizes programming methodology with a concentration on problem solving, algorithm development, object orient programming, and computational thinking principles. A large part of the course is built around the design, creation, and testing of computer programs or parts of programs that correctly solve a given problem. This year–long course is identical to a first semester programming course taught at most universities; therefore, students are expected to commit to a daily schedule of programming and studying activities. AP Computer Science will receive a 0.25 additional GPA weighting (rather than 0.5). Students will be prepared for and strongly encouraged to sit for the AP exam in May.

AT Computer Science: Data Structures

ID: 44540 Grade: 11-12 Length: Year
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Semester I grade of B or higher in AP Computer Science.

This course is a standard college course on algorithms and data structures in an object-oriented environment. The sorting algorithms include selection, insertion, merge, quick, and heap. The data structures include arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, sets, maps, and graphs. Additional topics include recursion, the Java Collections framework, Big–O analysis, hash tables, unit testing, and class design. The programming language is Java. Students taking this course should be independent thinkers able to spend a significant amount of time at a computer outside of class. This course goes well beyond the material tested by the College Board’s AP Computer Science A exam. This course is project–based and very hands–on, and emphasizes a use of real world data whenever possible. This course was collaboratively developed and endorsed by a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in–depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

Introduction to Robotics

ID: 46520 Grade: 9-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective

In this course students will learn new skills and apply critical thinking to solving concrete problems. Important learning goals of the course are innovation, perseverance, teamwork, and communication.

The course is divided into three main segments:
  1. Codecademy is used to walk students with no experience through basic coding laws and language, using the Python language.
  2. Arduinos and additional introductory electronics kits allow students to understand the basics of hardware/software interfacing. Arduinos and their close relatives are at the heart of the hand phone, microwave oven, automobile, and airplanes. Using Arduinos leads to a basic understanding of the interaction between hardware and software.
  3. VEX robots are approximately one cubic foot in size and are used in an in-class competitions—Ken and Barbie Firefighter rescue.

Students design, build, and drive robots to perform these real–world tasks. A technical poster, technical paper, and interviews with outside engineers are required as well.

Robotics Science

ID: 46522/46529 Grade: 9-12 Length: Semester or Year
Credit: Elective

This course teaches and applies learning in the areas of mechanics, electronics, CAD, robotics design, writing, art, and marketing. Students meet, network, and compete with local and international high schools and universities, at competitions including VEX robotics in Taipei, FRC robotics in Sydney, and MATE robotics in Surabaya, Indonesia. These competitions are the gold standard of STEM, and membership on a robotics team provides excellent preparation for students headed to careers in engineering, marketing, or science. Students choosing this course may take the course during the fall semester (select 46522), during the spring semester (select 46529), or for the full year (select both). Successful students are those who excel at teamwork, innovation, and perseverance. This course may be repeated for credit. Those who have previously taken the course are expected to assume leadership roles and mentor new students. Community service may include mentoring SAS robotics teams in the lower schools. Travel to out-of-country competition is optional, and is the financial responsibility of the student.

Engineering Science: Design, Build, and Transform

ID: 44012 Grade: 10-12 Length: Year
Credit: Elective

In this class students assume the role of designer-makers and learn to apply the design process to an increasingly difficult series of challenges. Collaboratively taught, this class will interest students wanting the opportunity to learn by tackling real problems within fields of study such as sustainable housing, transportation, community infrastructure, and energy. Students approach learning through creative problem solving and activities that retain a sense of playful exploration. Semester one includes a deep dive into the design process; prototyping and computer aided design (Sketchup) as well as exploratory work with tools such as Lego, Rube Goldbergs, folding techniques and 3D printing. Activities will strengthen basic skills in fabrication, collaboration, project management, and underlying scientific concepts. In the second semester student teams will be given guidance and opportunities to apply their skills to an authentic challenge and will work collaboratively to realize a solution of sufficient scale and complexity.


ID: 46524 Grade: 10-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective
Note: This course does not meet the NCAA Division I core course requirement for social studies. See counselor for details.

This course will explore the world of modern business through project–based learning. The course will guide students through the essential activities of an enterprise, including finance and accounting, human resources, operations, and marketing. Students will become critical thinkers, analyzing, discussing, and solving real– world business case problems. Students also improve their written and oral communication skills in authentic settings when reporting their solutions to business cases. Students will polish their technology skills by authentically using computers skills as business people would: preparing presentations, calculating, preparing, and analyzing quantitative data in Excel, and creating marketing materials using image and video manipulation tools. The course is designed for those who would like a better understanding the world of commerce or hope to one day join the business field.

Business of Sports (APEx)

ID: 48040 Grade: 10-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective

The APEx course focuses on the qualitative and quantitative aspects of our present facility in terms of planning and projection into the next few years. Students will study possibilities such as how to make the facility self-sustainable, the art of marketing the product, how to connect with stakeholders, and fundraising techniques. Students will learn hands-on techniques designed to make the entire SAS community aware of this futuristic project as we work toward our ultimate goal of a student-administered APEx. Assessments will center on project-based learning and group work. Thoughtful introspection and long termed goal-oriented students are needed, as learning will deviate from ordinary classroom situations. Good writing skills and public speaking experience are a plus.

Personal Finance: You and Your Money

ID: 46531 Grade: 10-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective

Few high school and college graduates are financially literate when they first enter the workforce. This course gives students an advantage in the real world by developing their financial literacy. Students will learn that high salaries don’t guarantee future wealth unless earnings are properly managed. Students will learn to manage their money through responsible spending and investing habits. In this course students will track their own daily spending from the first day of the class, blog about their learning, and explore the merits of careful consumption and effective investing through a series of project-based discoveries. Please see Social Studies for other business and entrepreneurship offerings.

Journalism: Newspaper

ID: 46400 Grade: 10-12 Length: Year
Credit: Elective

This is a project-based course offering exposure to all of the practices, skills, and tools used in contemporary print and online journalism. Students will learn how to interview, report, write, and edit as well as learn about the operation of a contemporary online newspaper: ethical practices, organization, editorial policy, production, and design. Output may be in the form of written stories, video stories (news packages), or even documentaries. Students will learn the multiple skills of the contemporary journalist. The traditional print reporter might have to learn to introduce their written post with a short stand-up video, a short interview with a principal source, or a voice-over with taped images of the event. The broadcast reporter will learn how to write three-paragraph introductions to news packages or video montage and to add written content that explores details that the news package cannot with its time limitations. There will be an attempt to schedule free periods consecutive to this class and students will use a combination of class time and free periods for mandatory staff meetings, small tools and skills sessions, and one-on-one sessions with the adviser. Students must be able to work independently on stories and projects. The course may be repeated for credit.

Journalism: Yearbook

ID: 46401 Grade: 9-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective
Note: Limited enrollment. Priority will go to students who have completed a graphic design course or have equivalent knowledge.

Enjoy research, writing, photography, and/or layout design? Want to apply academic skills to real-world assignments? Ever dreamed of seeing your work in print? Then join the class that creates the Islander, the official photo journalistic publication covering a year in the life of SAS. This course is a dynamic mixture of hands–on instruction/ production, lively discussion, computer and camera work, individual and group projects, and adrenaline-pumping deadlines. In addition to learning yearbook publishing skills, students will also develop a sense of time management, workplace ethics, and leadership finesse. Some after school and weekend hours are required to cover school events and meet deadlines. Because this course has limited enrollment and requires a certain number of students in each of the four grades, some students requesting the course may not be able to take it. This course may be repeated for credit.

AT Entrepreneurship

ID: 46560 Grade: 10-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective
Note: Semester I grade of A or better in World History/World Studies is required to select this course in tenth grade; a B or higher in a tenth or eleventh grade social studies course is required to select this course in eleventh or twelfth grade, or current teacher recommendation.

Entrepreneurship provides real world, hands-on learning on what it’s like to actually start a company. Students will learn marketing, finance, and other business disciplines, while also acquiring organizational skills such as time management and leadership development. Students start the semester with an immediate immersion into the Lean Startup methodology adopted from University of California Berkeley and Design Thinking techniques from Stanford University. Students develop skills through working in the field, observing and interviewing to discover problems, and learning techniques for validating hypotheses. They learn by doing, through real-world problems and collaborating with real entrepreneurs. Students learn processes including customer development, agile development, and rapid prototyping.

This course has been developed in alignment with the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business and Stanford University Entrepreneurial Program. The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

AT Seminar

ID: 48520 Grade: 10-12 Length: Year
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Semester I grade of A or higher in both English 9 and World History, or Semester I grade of A or higher in World Studies is required to select this course in tenth grade. Semester 1 grade of B+ or higher in English 10/American Studies is required to select this course in eleventh grade.
Note: AT Seminar requires independence, self–regulation, and time management to be successful. Please see the TEC department chair if you have questions.

The AT Seminar course is an inquiry-driven course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore real-world topics and issues from multiple perspectives. Students learn to collect and analyze information with accuracy and precision in order to craft and communicate evidence–based arguments. Students also work collaboratively to submit a team project.

The AT Seminar is year one of the AT Research and Catalyst program; merging the AT Seminar/AT Research program with the Catalyst Project allows students to reflect on their passions and strengths while they develop the skills that help them to think and write academically. Upon completion of the AT Seminar, students will be prepared for a research, performance, or innovation–based AT Research and Catalyst experience the following academic year. This course has fully adopted the AP Seminar curriculum, and therefore, students will be eligible to take the AP Seminar exam in preparation for earning the AP Capstone Diploma.

The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. AT Seminar requires independence, self-regulation, and time management to be successful. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

AT Research and Catalyst

ID: 48515 Grade: 11-12 Length: Year
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Semester I grade of B or higher in AP Seminar or AT Seminar.
Note: Completing this course is one of the ways in which a student may fulfill the Catalyst graduation requirement.

AT Research and Catalyst allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest. For example, students can dig deeper into a topic studied in an AP or AT course, work across academic areas on an interdisciplinary topic or study a new discipline of interest, perhaps one a student would like to study in college. The course begins with students developing a greater sense of self by generating a learning profile, a SMART goal, and a project framework. As they explore their interests, students design, plan, and conduct qualitative and/or quantitative research and choose a methodology to address a potential research question. Ultimately, students hone in on a driving question and work on an independent research project. Students utilize the desired student learning outcomes (DSLOs) as they document their processes and curate their scholarly work in a portfolio. In addition, students will be guided to operationalize their personal networks in order to establish mentorships and other forms of experiential network–based learning (collaborative research studies, internships, etc.) The course culminates in an academic paper of approximately 5,000 words and presentation of their Research and Catalyst Project. This course has fully adopted the AP Research curriculum, and therefore, students will be eligible to take the AP Research exam in preparation for earning the AP Capstone Diploma. The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

SAS Catalyst Project

ID: 48510 Grade: 11-12 Length: Semester
Credit: Elective
Note: Completing this course is one of the ways in which a student may fulfill the Catalyst graduation requirement.

The SAS Catalyst Project represents the culmination of academic, intellectual, and social-emotional learning experiences where students are provided guidance, resources, and flexible scheduling to explore interests and pursue passions. Teachers act as guides on the side for students where learning is differentiated for each student based on their interest, readiness, and learning profile. The desired student learning outcomes (DSLOs) of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity are emphasized, developed, and assessed. As students design, plan, and conduct their projects, they will focus on producing a tangible outcome, and encouraged to dive deep into relevant content and knowledge. Often, students experience real-world learning and problem solving in authentic contexts (e.g.,interviews, work study, scientific research, internships, etc.). Students will be taught how to employ the rich regional and global professional network; starting with working with a mentor from a respective field or profession. The project scope is limited only by the student’s imagination. Juniors who have a strong interest in a particular project may complete the Catalyst Project as a junior. This would be especially true for students who are planning a heavier senior course load or are applying to a university requiring a demonstration of understanding in a particular academic area (e.g., UK universities).

Independent Learning

ID: 49013 Grade: 11-12 Length: Year
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Students will be required to provide additional information and have their learning plan approved after the course selection process ends.

The Independent Learning option is designed so that students can study a topic or learn in an area in which no course is available or for students to pursue work experience programs like internships, externships, or employment that is supervised by SAS. Rising juniors and seniors should select six traditional SAS classes, with the independent course as a seventh course. For the independent learning option to be listed on the SAS transcript, it must be reviewed and approved by the Center for Innovation Coordinator, Dennis Steigerwald, by the start of the semester and must be completed by the end of the semester. Successful completion would provide one–half credit per semester and be listed on the transcript as a P (Pass). The course would not be included in the SAS GPA. In order to ensure that students benefit from the full academic program offered at SAS, an independent activity could not be used to fulfill the SAS subject area graduation requirements. Further information about independent learning options is available from the Coordinator of the Center for Innovation.

GOA Online Learning

ID: 48600 (Semester 1) and/or 48601 (Semester 2) Grade: 11-12 Length: Year
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Students must meet and have their learning plan approved by the SAS GOA Site Director.

SAS is a member of the Global Online Academy (GOA), a consortium of the top independent schools from around the world. As a member of GOA, SAS students can enroll in courses as diverse as The Graphic Novel or Medical Problem Solving. Working closely with peers and teachers from the US and other international schools, SAS students have an exciting and flexible online learning opportunity that will challenge them to further develop cultural competence and global citizenship skills.

Students who would like specialized learning options beyond SAS’s in-house course offerings may choose to enroll in a one-semester or year-long online course through GOA’s broad and rigorous selection of online courses. If this sounds interesting, take a look at the GOA Course Options on the next column and then speak with your counselor.

Students who would like to take a GOA course should select the “GOA Online Course” option during the SAS online course request process in the spring. Once a GOA course is selected, the student is committed to completing the course, so it is important that there be careful consideration. Unlike traditional SAS courses, GOA courses cannot be changed during the add/drop period at the beginning of a semester. In addition, students should note that collaboration with peers and teachers is an essential component of many GOA courses, and students may be expected to manage collaboration and communication across time zones. The SAS GOA Site Director, Patrick Green, will contact students to assist them through the process of signing up for a specific course through GOA.

Students in eleventh and twelfth grade may complete a maximum of one credit per year through GOA, with the GOA course replacing one of the six or seven courses that a student would ordinarily take during the academic year. Students are encouraged to select a course that allows them to follow their interests or passions and goes beyond the options available at SAS. A GOA course must be a course that is not already offered at SAS. Credits earned through GOA could be used to fulfill minimum number of SAS credits required for graduation, but would not fulfill department specific minimum requirements (except in the case of the World Language options).

The GOA transcript will become a part of the student’s official academic record. To earn a credit, the course must be completed prior to the final day of the semester; otherwise the course will be listed as an F. On the SAS transcript, the course will be listed as “GOA Online Course” with a P (pass) grade and 0.5 credit per semester. The grade will not be included in the calculation of an SAS grade point average (GPA). The GOA transcript, including the actual grades, will be sent to colleges as an additional page of the SAS transcript.

While students are encouraged to enhance their learning through other online learning opportunities and report details on university applications, only GOA courses will be listed on the SAS transcript.

GOA Course Options