by Bridget Richard
It’s time to schedule classes for next year. Some new offerings will be available, according to Mr. Schultz.
We’re going to be offering new computer classes this upcoming school year, correct?
What are the names of those classes?
One of them is called AP Computer Science Principles, and the other one is called Practical Programming.
And what can you tell me about this new AP class?
Well, I can tell you that at this point and time the committee from the College Board that’s designing the class is still tweaking the final requirements. So I don’t have anything detailed in writing yet. Generally it’s going to be kind of a general overview of computer science. We’re going to look at a lot of innovations in computer science. It’s not language specific, so we’re going to look at several programming languages. I’m going to try and do some work with editing pictures and editing sound files and editing movies and–if I can work out the grant–maybe some robotics. Every student will be required to do a research project on an innovation in technology that they’re interested in. And then they’ll also have to do a comprehensive capstone project that will count as part of their exam grade. And the capstone project can be anything that they’re interested in. So if they can a way to incorporate computer science in art, or computer science in music, or robotics, or whatever they want to do, we can make that work as their capstone. And then I believe that counts as 30% of their exam grade. We have to submit it to the exam review committee. And then they’ll still take a regular pencil-paper exam. Actually, I think the exam for this one is going to be computer based. So then they’ll take the exam and that counts as the rest of the exam score.
And it’s a new AP class, [College Board’s] creating it this year, are you excited for teaching this for the first time?
I’m really excited about it. They started piloting it with colleges a couple years ago. And then there have been one dozen or two dozen high schools that have piloted it over the past two years just to work the kinks out and try things. But next year is the first year that it’s officially an AP course with an AP exam associated with it, so I’m really excited.
Would you recommend that students take Intro to Java or Computer Science Essentials as a prerequisite for the class?
For the AP Computer Science Principles, there are no prerequisites required for that one. If you’re interested in doing something that’s more programming intensive, then I would probably start with Computer Science Essentials or Intro to Java. We’ve also got the Practical Programming, which is going to be more in depth, with some of the same things that we’re doing in Principles, so we’re still doing things with images and sound files and movies–and making movies–and robotics and all that good stuff. But it’s going to be more programming intensive, and the only prerequisite for that one is Geometry. So for either of the new courses as long as you’ve taken Geometry, there isn’t any other computer prerequisite. Intro to Computer Science Principles and Intro to Java are also good courses just to start with.
And you’re still going to offer AP Computer Science?
Will you be teaching computer classes, then, for the whole school day next year?
The schedule hasn’t been set yet, but that’s what it sounds like. If I get enough students signed up, I’d probably have to go that route. I’m really excited about that. I’d hate to not be teaching Pre-Calc, but I’m excited.
The thing that excites me the most about the new courses that we’re doing is that, up to this point, the courses were designed for students going into a STEM major. If you wanted to be an engineer, or a programmer, or a systems analyst, then they were designed for you. But the nice thing about these new courses is that they’re pretty much for any major. If you want to be an English major, or an art major, or a music major, then these are the classes for you.