Welcome to O(N)CS Lessons

A First Year High School Pre-AP Computer Science Curriculum that works!

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Lessons and Materials

The free lessons and low-cost materials found on this website are the answer to your Computer Science curriculum needs, especially if you are needing to establish and grow a new computer science program on your campus. They provide a systematic, step-by-step process of learning the fundamentals of Pre-AP Computer Science, laying the foundation for successful preparation for, and subsequently taking and passing the College Board AP Computer Science A Test in a second year of study in an actual AP Computer Science course.

The lessons are FREE, tried-and-proven effective for many years (see comments and testimonials below), the supplementary materials are available at a low cost ($250 annual renewable site license), and the UIL reviews are perfect for building a winning computer science team.  Here are 24 easy-to-follow, step-by-step lessons that take you through the first year CS curriculum.                     

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UIL Reviews 

For those of you in Texas who participate in the UIL computer science competition, the first fifteen questions of every Computer Science UIL test are on the same fifteen topics and always in the same order.  These reviews cover those topics, and are guaranteed to help the student and teacher master these concepts. A perfect score on these first fifteen questions is worth 90 points, a very strong score that would help any contestant do well at District, Region and State.  See more information below.

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IDE Recommendation

For years I used JCreator in the classroom, primarily due to its ease of use, but recently I have switched to an exciting new IDE called JGrasp, developed and supported by the CS department at Auburn University in Alabama. It is a free download, very easy to use compared to other IDEs that are out there, especially for beginners, and has some very nice features that enhance the learning and software development experience.  It also has some excellent tutorials to help you learn how to use it. Check it out!

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Comments from subscribers:

"I LOVE the slides and assignments!  This stuff is really good.  I think you do an excellent job of leading the students through the steps of programming and explaining all of the parts of statements.  I'm excited to see other lessons as you develop them!" G.W., Sulphur Springs, Texas

"Your curriculum was the best I have seen for first year computer science. I really enjoyed using the materials. I really like the videos you're adding to the curriculum.", B.C., Georgetown, Texas

"I am very new to Java and new to teaching this class - 1st year - and find your PowerPoints are excellent. As one of my students said you present the information "straight up" and it is easy to follow. Your PowerPoints are well organized, neat and clear - just the way I like to see them and how I prepare my own materials."  K.C., Gwinett, Georgia

"I am excited for our students to start working on this … We are a small school and we have never hired someone to teach computer science … fingers crossed this works."  T.H., Brock, Texas

"I had a student in my BUSIM class that was bored so I asked him to try learning Java (using the ONCSLESSONS curriculum) because I felt he needed the challenge.  He is having a ball and is totally excited about it and is working hard to catch up to the other classes.  That's totally exciting!  The young man is very bright but has an attendance problem because of boredom and this...is what is bringing him to school.  I told him there were many lucrative careers in Computer Science and he needed to think about it.  Reminds me of the Starfish story!" J.C., Sabine Pass

 " …these packets are great!  It is quite a bit more than I expected.  My students will really benefit from the number and depth of practice problems.  Awesome job. T.M., Orange, Texas

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Comments from a former student who learned using these materials:  

"These lessons are excellent for "set your own pace" learning, or for a class room learning experience. My experience was more at my own pace, which made it nice to breeze through material that came more easily to me, and spend extra time on the material that I did not comprehend on initial read. Furthermore, after learning a subject, the lessons remained as reference, so any time there was a moment when I was unsure about how something worked or why, I had the entire lesson sitting there to look back on. For these reasons, I have found these lessons to be thorough and perfect for learning and retaining the computer science basics.", Crystal R., UT CS Turing Scholar Graduated 2015, Software Engineer, Google, Mountainview, CA

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Take a look, download the free lessons, and consider purchasing the license for the supplementary materials. Contact me, John Owen, at captainjbo@gmail.com for any questions you may have. 

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Purchase order process

Download the order form, send a PO, after which an invoice for check payment will be sent, as well as download instructions.

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UIL Reviews 

The first fifteen questions of every Computer Science UIL test are on the same fifteen topics and always in the same order.  These reviews cover those topics, and are guaranteed to help the student and teacher master these concepts. A perfect score on these first fifteen questions is worth 90 points, a very strong score that would help any contestant do well at District, Region and State.  

The reviews are FREE with a purchase of the full bundle of curriculum materials ($250 for annual renewable site license). The cost for just the fifteen reviews is $99.

Below is a list of the first fifteen UIL Computer Science review topics.

  • Question #1 - Arithmetic involving Bases 2, 8, 10, and 16
  • Question #2 - Simple Literal Expressions
  • Question #3 - Simple Output
  • Question #4 - The String class methods
  • Question #5 - Simple Boolean logic
  • Question #6 - The Math class methods
  • Question #7 - Simple variable expressions
  • Question #8 - Conditional statements (if, if else, switch case)
  • Question #9 - Simple output loops
  • Question #10 - One dimensional primitive arrays
  • Question #11 - Input concepts
  • Question #12 - Accumulation loops
  • Question #13 - The Java Operator precedence (14 levels of operators)
  • Question #14 - Data type concepts
  • Question #15 - ArrayLists

Comments from the Author:

Over the twenty-plus years of teaching computer science in Texas, I developed and refined these lessons and materials that were suitable for the high school computer science student, which will also help the novice CS teacher learn the ropes. I did this primarily because, at the time, there were no suitable textbooks that did the job, and unfortunately, in my opinion, there still are none

The best thing about the lessons is that they work! This is evidenced by the success my students and teams have had over the years, with numerous 4s and 5s on the CS AP test, two UIL state champions, two ACSL (American Computer Science League, www.acsl.org) national champion teams (Jersey Village HS, 2000, Junior Division and Rockport Fulton HS, 2004, Senior 3 Division), and numerous UIL state silver and bronze medal teams. Every year we won district, and most of the years we won Region and went to State. Former students are working in high level jobs in the IT world, including one that currently works at Epic in Wisconsin, and another who just graduated as a Computer Science Turing Scholar from the University of Texas and is now working full-time at Google in San Francisco. Below are her comments about these lessons and this curriculum.

Comments from a former student:  These lessons are excellent for "set your own pace" learning, or for a class room learning experience. My experience was more at my own pace, which made it nice to breeze through material that came more easily to me, and spend extra time on the material that I did not comprehend on initial read. Furthermore, after learning a subject, the lessons remained as reference, so any time there was a moment when I was unsure about how something worked or why, I had the entire lesson sitting there to look back on. For these reasons, I have found these lessons to be thorough and perfect for learning and retaining the computer science basics.

Crystal Riley, 2007 - 2011, Rockport-Fulton HS
UIL Computer Science 2010 4A State Champion
UT Austin Computer Science Turing Scholar, Graduated May 2015
Career: Currently employed as a software engineer at Google in Mountain View, CA

TESTIMONIAL #1 - "I LOVE the slides and assignments!  This stuff is really good.  I think you do an excellent job of leading the students through the steps of programming and explaining all of the parts of statements.  I'm excited to see other lessons as you develop them!" G.W., Sulphur Springs, Texas

TESTIMONIAL #2 - "I am very new to Java and new to teaching this class - 1st year - and find your PowerPoints are excellent. As one of my students said you present the information "straight up" and it is easy to follow. Your PowerPoints are well organized, neat and clear - just the way I like to see them and how I prepare my own materials."  K.C., Gwinett, Georgia

TESTIMONIAL #3 - " …these packets are great!  It is quite a bit more than I expected.  My students will really benefit from the number and depth of practice problems.  Awesome job."  T.M., Orange, Texas

ENDORSEMENTS – I have read the Lessons in Computer Science developed by John Owen. They are a good set of educational materials for learning Java Programming Language and I highly recommend it for high school students interested in Computer Science.”  Rajan Alex, Ph.D., Professor, West Texas A&M University, School of Engineering and Computer Science

Also endorsed by Dr. Shyamal Mitra, University of Texas Austin CS department and State UIL Computer Science committee chairman.

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