Fair Friends: Educators Collaborate to Host Second Annual Computer Science Fair
Everything is better with a buddy. Last year, Soyoung Lim (CHHS Math and Computer Science teacher) and Tracey Finan (PVC Math teacher and Coding Club advisor) decided to embark on a joint passion project based on their mutual love of Computer Science. Together, they launched the first-ever Computer Science Fair to Croton-Harmon in 2022 and were thrilled to host the second annual event last Wednesday.
The fair is designed to not only showcase the talents of our high school coders, but also engage middle school students. “The entire seventh-grade class comes to the high school to experience hardware, software, artificial intelligence (AI), and other aspects of Computer Science to generate interest to expand their knowledge,” shared Ms. Finan. As you would expect, the high school students expand their skill sets in preparation for and during the fair, by practicing their presentation and communication skills.
Ms. Lim beamed with pride, sharing how this experience boosts her students' self-esteem, saying “They are so proud to share their projects with the middle school students.” She even noted how mature her students are when interacting with their PVC peers.
Ms. Finan guides the PVC students throughout the fair, pointing out different projects, and “jumps on” any feedback she receives, following up on topics that pique their interest. For example, last year, a middle school student wanted to learn more about EarSketch (a music coding program) he saw at the fair. Mrs. Finan not only urged him to join the Coding Club but also worked with Ms. Lim to bring a group middle school of students to the high school to learn EarSketch from Computer Science students.
Projects showcased throughout the gym spanned from custom Face Filters and understanding password strength (against AI) to hardware breakdown and encryption lessons. Freshman Sean Ossowski spent this morning explaining encryption and binary sequence. “I wanted to give the seventh graders an insight—before they take a Computer Science class—into the inner workings of computer communications,” he said. He went on to explain that “transmitting trillions of ones and zeroes every second is what makes everything in our digital world run.”
A common theme that arose when discussing Computer Science projects was AI. Freshman, Callum Franco, developed his version of ChatGPT, called “ToasterAI,” over the course of a year (while he was a student at PVC). When discussing his interest in AI, he shared that “AI is scary until you know how it works because the core concept is incredibly simple. The algorithms are advanced, but if you break it down into little pieces, it’s not so scary.”
And while technology is a part of all of our lives, Senior Wyatt Pierre shared how it significantly impacts his life, “Being deaf, computer technology is so important to me. It is part of my life from the moment I wake up in the morning.” Wyatt’s “Semi-Conductor” project was a crowd favorite, providing students with the opportunity to “conduct” an AI orchestra by waving their arms in front of the camera. Wyatt will continue his studies in Computer Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology next Fall (congratulations!) and credits his success to his “amazing teacher, Ms. Lim.”
It’s fair to say that the collaboration between these two passion-driven educators is what makes this event a unique and engaging learning experience for our students.