At Colorado Academy, we are focused on teaching 21st century skills in a developmentally appropriate way for children of all ages.
CA’s commitment to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design, and Math) is interdisciplinary by nature. At CA, we recognize that these fields overlap, so our curriculum combines disciplines to offer students innovative ways of connecting these skills to the world around them. With multiple makerspaces, including the Anderson Innovation Lab, and forward-thinking faculty, CA students are prepared to think expansively, face the challenges of the future—and solve them.
At Colorado Academy we believe every child should have the opportunity to experience Computer Science. Whether coding their first game in Scratch, designing and programming a robot pet in Middle School, or creating a complicated simulation of the synchronizing patterns of fireflies in Upper School, students in every grade experience a rich CS curriculum.
With a strong emphasis on Design and Computational Thinking, students become creative and authentic learners. CA graduates have the skills needed to thrive in our technological society as well as a solid foundation in cyber-ethics.
Engineering & Design
CA provides spaces in all three divisions—the Lower School Wonder Workshop, the Middle School Design and Innovation Studio, and the Upper School Anderson Innovation Lab—where students learn to invent and invent to learn.
With access to cutting-edge tools and experts who mentor them in technologies and innovative approaches, students are able to create from their imaginations. Here trial and failure help teach perseverance and determination, and eventually, success.
Computer Science, Engineering & Design by Division
List of 3 items.
Lower School (Grades K-5)
Creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication drive the study of technology and innovation in CA’s Lower School.
Students from Pre-K to Grade 5 explore these concepts through developmentally appropriate engagements that are hands-on and differentiated to meet the needs of all learners.
Fine motor development, sequencing, and pattern recognition are just a few of the main skills emphasized for students in Pre-K and Kindergarten. Students are also exposed to a variety of ways to explore their imagination, problem-solve, and learn how to work well with others.
In First and Second Grade, fine motor development and teamwork continue to be a focus as students explore engineering concepts through cardboard construction and prototyping. Students learn how to bring their ideas to life with found objects and how to make things move by creating and testing simple machines. 2nd grade students demonstrate their learning by hosting a cardboard carnival for the Lower School community at the end of each school year. Basic computer skills, keyboarding, and coding are also introduced during these years as well as the commencement of our digital citizenship curriculum. Our 1:1 iPad program also begins in Grade 2.
Computer science and innovation are at the core of the curriculum for students in Grades 3-5. File management, connecting to the cloud, and digital citizenship are all explored in fun and engaging ways that give students a choice and voice. Dedicated keyboarding time is also scheduled for students in these grades. Graphic design, video game design, 3D printing, and woodworking provide students with access to a range of tools to help them bring their ideas to life. Design thinking is also introduced throughout these years. The Lower School experience culminates with a Fifth Grade capstone project where students work with community partners such as the Denver Zoo and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and utilize design thinking to solve contemporary problems.
Middle School (Grades 6-8)
CA’s strong emphasis on design thinking at the Middle School level means that every student in every class will do at least one project that involves its concepts—identifying problems, gathering and analyzing information and evidence, getting feedback, making revisions, and making decisions.
Students in Grade 6 focus on a fundamental understanding of circuits, creating a toy with lights. Building on that experience, students in Grade 7 use the Snap programming language and a Hummingbird Arduino to design a robot pet for their clients—Kindergarten students—and Kindergarteners then test and critique the finished product.
By Grade 8, students in Middle School have the opportunity to explore the physical world in a science course that blends traditional physics and chemistry with technology and robotics. Students design and launch bottle rockets to study aerodynamics and rocketry.
The Middle School Design and Innovation Studio includes 3D printers, a laser cutter, a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) tool for cutting, carving, machining and milling, hand tools, glue guns, littleBits, and recycled materials for students to use in any project.
Students in Middle School are invited and eligible to compete on CA’s FIRST Lego® League robotics team.
Upper School (Grades 9-12)
Upper School students have boundless opportunities to design, engineer, and use computer science in project-based learning.
Want to build a “Tiny House” out of a retired CA school bus, complete with plumbing, electrical power, solar panels, Wifi, carpentry, and interior design? We did that in CA's Anderson Innovation Lab. Maybe you want to build a robot that can sail across CA’s pool? Perhaps you want to compete with the best high school students in the country at computer science challenges—or you may want to launch a future career by learning architectural drawing with 3D modeling software.
Problem decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithm design are at the heart of our Computer Science program. Coding, robotics, physical computing and electronics, and 3D modeling and printing are a few of the core components in the CS curriculum.
Upper School students are required to take at least one trimester of Computer Science. After fulfilling the requirement, many students choose to take additional courses.
Computer Science/Engineering & Design Faculty
List of 7 items.
MS Librarian/MS Computer Science/Engineering & Design
Lewis & Clark College - BA University of Denver - MLIS
At CA Since: 2013
Allie Bronston, as well as being the Middle School Librarian, teaches a Middle School Computer Science and Innovation class. She helps teachers and students with their iPads and technology lesson planning.
University of Virginia - BS University of Virginia - MAT
At CA Since: 2021
Laura Farmer came to CA in fall 2021 as Educational Technology Specialist, helping students, teachers, and staff to apply technology to enhance their learning, instruction, and exploration, and fulfill their needs for more elegant, practical, or efficient ways to accomplish their objectives. She was most recently Director of Online Student Programs at EXPLO, a nonprofit multi-campus summer program for students in Grades 2-12. Farmer is especially experienced in developing instructional strategies for remote learning, developing innovative curricula for technology-rich learning experiences, and coaching teacher efforts in technology integration. She holds a BS in Chemistry and an MAT in Secondary Science Education from the University of Virginia.
Austin College - BA Austin College - MA As CA since 2021
Kyle Gillette teaches computer science courses in the Upper School. He came to CA in fall 2021 from teaching an Intro to C ++ course at Colorado School of Mines and instructing students at Lakewood, Conifer, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln high schools in AP computer science, programming, data structures, web design, networking, and algebra over the course of nearly 30 years. Gillette is fluent in a number of programming and scripting languages, has served as a reader for AP Computer Science exams, and enjoys coaching competitive computer science/programming teams. He holds a BA in Mathematics and English, and an MA in Secondary Education from Austin College in Sherman, Texas.
Director of Technology; Computer Science Instructor
University of Delaware - BS University of Colorado-Boulder - MEngr
At CA Since: 2014
Jared Katzman, Director of Technology, teaches a Computer Science class, handles password questions, policy issues, troubleshooting, and answers questions about iPads, the wireless network, and CA's technology program.
University of Illinois - BA University of Colorado - MBA Air University - Master of Military Operational Art and Science At CA since 2021
Michael McLaughlin joined CA’s Upper School to teach physics and computer science in fall 2021. Formerly a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, he is a pilot with more than 2000 flight hours, ultimately serving as the Air Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium. Since his retirement, he has embraced a second career as a math and science teacher. He taught physics and Algebra I at Heritage High School in Littleton, Colo., and most recently taught a variety of AP physics courses, honors geometry, and engineering principles and design at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo. McLaughlin holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, an MBA from the University of Colorado, and a Master of Military Operational Art and Science from Air University. He is fluent in French and enjoys coaching youth sports, cycling, piano, and photography.
Illinois Wesleyan University - BA Chaminade University - MA At CA since 2021
Travis Reynolds came to Colorado Academy as the Lower School Technology/Makerspace teacher in fall 2021. His previous experience includes designing and utilizing user-centered innovation labs to engage students in Grades K-8 at the Turning Point School in Culver City, Calif. He introduces students to a range of hardware, software, and emerging technologies in the fields of robotics, coding, 3D printing, laser cutting, mobile app development, and virtual reality. Reynolds has also taught algebra and been a mentor, judge, and tournament director in FIRST Lego League. He holds BA in Hispanic Studies from Illinois Wesleyan University and a Master of Education in Instructional Leadership from Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Stanford University -BS University of Notre Dame - MEd
At CA Since: 2022
Katie Schneider joined the Upper School Computer Science Department in fall 2022 to teach AP computer science courses and also teaches in Engineering Design. Schneider most recently taught computer science at Kent Denver School, where she also coached robotics, boys soccer, and was assistant Varsity Girls Lacrosse coach. She holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering: Product Design from Stanford University, where she also played Varsity Lacrosse, and an MEd in Secondary Math Education from the University of Notre Dame. Schneider previously taught high school physics, geometry, and anatomy and physiology at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School in Fayetteville, Ga. Her avocations include hiking and backpacking, lacrosse and soccer, running and skiing, reading, and dancing.