In Mrs. Gall’s 4th period AP Computer Science Principals classroom, you will find students who may have not even thought of taking a computer science class a few years back.
“I want to go into the aerospace industry and I feel like this course is teaching me things I need to know,” explains Junior, Ben Manaois. “Perhaps in the future I might be working on autopilot, and I can see this being helpful.”
Several students are discovering that computer science skills are necessary for their future success no matter what career path they take.
“Even though what I want to do is in medicine, not computers, computers are still in everything. It’s helpful to know how to use the computer in different ways, and how it affects anything we do,” explains Senior, Saraanne Maia.
The AP Computer Science Principals course, created by the College Board, was backed up by eight years of development and money from Google, the Science Foundation and other major donors. It has existed for two years.
TCS has been offering it ever since its debut.
The idea is to attract more minorities and women to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) concepts, with the “Art” part of that being a major focus.
“Students may not be so interested in becoming a programmer and coding all day, but they are interested in how computer science affects their future career field,” explains TCS Computer Science Teacher, Wendy Gall. “That can be anything from sports and medicine to fashion and entertainment.”
Junior, Weihao Tang is pursuing a career in business and has even started his own company in fashion design. What he’s learning in AP Computer Science Principals is already giving him a jump start.
“This course has helped me think logically and helped me create a website for my business,” explains Tang.
Last year, TCS students were some of the first in the world to take the AP exam in this course.
“Yet the beauty of this class is that you do not have to have experience in computer science to take the class,” says Gall.
Gall is actively scouting students as early as middle school who may not have considered computer science courses before.
This year in the middle school, 7th and 8th graders have the opportunity to take Computer Science Discoveries. It’s a new curriculum from the ever popular Code.org. Students in this class will have the chance to design their own app, which will be voted on by Secondary Principal, Dr. Shalen Bishop. They later move on to website development and physical computing, where they’ll get to work with circuit boards and more.
Timothy also offers three more traditional computer science classes for high schoolers: Beginning Computer Programming, AP Computer Science A, which offers straight design and programming in JAVA, and Survey of Programming Languages and Concepts, a new class this year, which explores various programming languages.
“I love the material I get to teach in this class. When we go to competitions, it’s usually those students that go,” says Gall.
For Gall, the goal is to funnel the students into her world who might have potential in STEM and STEAM, which could include every student at Timothy. Parents can also help foster that love early.
“I think it’s a good idea for parents to discuss the different careers out there with students at a younger age and think about the intersection of STEM skills in those professions. Even professions like nursing and others that are more people-oriented can still benefit by understanding these skills,” says Gall.
Even for the youngest students, Gall encourages parents to let them tinker with STEM concepts through robots, toys and games that promote this type of learning. She recommends Code.org.
TCS offers a robotics club for students in K-5 and robotics team in grades 6-12. To learn more, visit the robotics team page on the Timothy website.