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At our high school, our tech department has made many strides in the past decade. The courses and technology we offer are a matter of pride when showcasing our school. However, our department is small and we are trying our best to grow our staff and courses.

The proposal has been going around that we should merge our department with the science department. There are many reasons for this. But, for the most part, there are two main ideas here. We can write all science courses with stressing technology and scientific tools. Secondly, we can rally both departments and create all our courses with the theme around 'Discovery'.

Yet, everyone in the Technology department, including myself, seems rather hesitant with this. We understand the idea of infusing technology into the science courses, but we wonder what the impact of a scientific approach to the courses we have created. We see a distinct difference between scientific discovery and inquire vs the design, creativity, and problem-solving in our technology courses.

Has anyone merged their tech (or CS) department with their science departments? What have you found beneficial with this? What problems have you discovered? I am looking to weight our pros and cons over this issue

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Computer Science Educators. I'd suggest that you take the time to go through the Tour and see how this site (like other Stack Exchange sites) is different than most fora you've likely used before. The title of the question asks for a simple "yes/no" answer, while the body seeks input for making the decision. The former doesn't do well here since either answer is "valid" and mostly opinion-based. The latter is kind of like a "tell me what you think" which also does poorly. We'd love help you to make this a good question, to get you useful answers. $\endgroup$ – Gypsy Spellweaver May 2 '18 at 22:27
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Rather than providing experience, let me add a bit to a way you can think about the issue and, perhaps, resolve it.

You are correct that the scientific method, the mathematical method, and the computing sciences method are all distinct. So, experiments in the Chemistry sense are much less important and frequent in CS. However, there are some synergies, and the sciences can provide useful examples for the creation of programs and systems. Also, Computing can be useful in the sciences, handling Big Data, for example or executing theoretical models.

I'd suggest three things to think about.

  1. Is this a bottom up (faculty driven) initiative or top down (administration wanting changes)? The latter is likely to be much less successful.

  2. Are the faculty already knowledgeable cross-discipline? It will be much less successful otherwise.

  3. How important is it to you to have pair-teaching (co-teaching, team-teaching) of several courses in your institution? Especially pair teaching with instructors of different core disciplines. Without that, I wouldn't expect a lot of benefit other than needing fewer "department chairpeople".

Synergy is possible and valuable. But forcing it won't work very well.

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My gut answer is "no", but that's all it is - a gut reaction. However, I do have a suggestion as an alternative: cross-curricular projects. At my school, we have developed several cross-curricular projects over the years that accomplish what I believe your school is seeking. For example, in the fall of their sophomore year, students are required to take programming, Earth Science or APES, and of course English II. The cross-curricular project for those three courses is one in which they must research ten population equations, find data for several geographical areas, write a program to accept user input and/or read data from files to calculate and output population statistics for their geographical areas, and then write a project summary paper for their English portfolio. That is just one example. There are two major cross-curricular projects each year of their high school career, and each project includes at least one technology course and one science course.

These projects have taken years to develop. But through that development and execution they have provided synergy and cooperation between and among several departments without merging.

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