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High School Computer Science Projects: Questions, Answers, and 5 Cool Project Ideas

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

FAQ about Computer Science for High School Students and 5 starter projects using computer science and artificial intelligence AI

High school is a great time to explore career choices. Computer Science offers many career options and is foundational to many others such as healthcare, finance, marketing, and more. In this blog post, we answer common questions that high school students have about computer science, and suggest 5 cool projects to explore to see whether computer science is right for you!

Is Computer Science hard?

I am probably biased since I am a computer scientist and love it, but I don't think it is hard :-). To be more specific, however, computer science is a topic where you mostly apply logic and learn how to build things with computer programs - which are a logical way to provide instructions to computers. So if you like analytical problem solving, applying logic and reasoning, then computer science may be right for you. Some people mistakenly think that computer science is all about logic and numbers, but it isn't. Like any field, Computer Science also requires that you think about your user, the human who will benefit from what you build. If you are socially inclined and interested in solving problems to help people, computer science is also right for you.

How do I choose a project topic for Computer Science?

With the tools available today, high school students can build an amazing array of computer science projects, everything from websites to iPhone or Android apps, and add technology like artificial intelligence and hardware integration to expand what the project can accomplish. Because of this, we advise students to start with a topic and problem that they are passionate about. Are you interested in medicine? If so - would you like to build a project that detects diseases and helps doctors? Are you passionate about social good? Would you like to build an app to help the blind?

Once you have decided on a project area - think about a problem in that area that you would like to solve - and how your project can help. For example - one of our students wanted to help the blind. She devised an app that uses AI to detect types of currency (for example being able to tell the difference between a $5 bill and a $1 bill using a phone camera). This is a great example of converting an area of interest into a computer science project.

What are good high school science fair projects?

We have had many students compete and win in science fair projects. What makes for a good science fair project is the combination of (a) an interesting and compelling idea (b) motivation that shows why your solution matters and helps solve a real-world problem (c ) experiments showing that your idea works. You may build an app for your science fair project, but it is not usually required. Experiments showing that your idea works are more important. To run experiments, you will need to build some kind of prototype, but it may not be a full app.

What are some good programming projects?

Good programming projects either solve a real-world problem or help you learn something new. In the above answers, we have shown examples of the first, so we will focus here on the second. Focus on something that you would like to learn how to do, and then build a solution that requires you to do it. For example, these two blogs show how one student built programming projects to learn to use different python libraries, one to tell the time and one to learn how to translate languages and process voices.

What should I do in high school to become a computer scientist?

The most important thing you can do in high school is to start to get an idea of whether computer science is right for you. Try out a few projects as suggested above. If you enjoy them, start learning more computer science concepts. At the high school level, the easiest way to explore computer science is artificial intelligence (AI) and app development. These are two areas that can be combined but do not have to be. You can build cool AI and cool app projects or combine the two for even more powerful solutions. You can see some examples of cool AI projects here and some examples of how to get started with app building here.

Do you need to be good at math to do computer science?

It definitely helps. Math helps you learn to think analytically and logically. Most real-world computer scientists use very little math in their daily work though. This is because while the tools and techniques that they use have a lot of math internally (like AI does), this math is built into the tools and you do not need to understand it well to operate the tools. Most computer scientists (who are not researchers) build software, improve the software or take care of software programs. This does not require a lot of math.

The math that is most useful for practical day-to-day computer science is Data Science or Statistics. Data is all around us, and whether it is analyzing the results of an experiment or gathering user behavior, statistics help us use the data effectively.

How should I start coding?

Start as early as you can. If you are in high school, start with Java or Python (ideally both). If you are in the United States, AP Computer Science is in Java. Wherever you are in the world, the most versatile language these days for just about any app is Python. If you have a handle on these two, you will be well on your way.

5 Cool Project Ideas to get you started

Want to get started? Here are five cool ideas to explore

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