New Computer Course More Than Coding

Finn Welch and Sebastian Fojut

AP Computer Science is joined this year by AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP), another option for students to explore advanced computer programming skills.

The class, which is being taught by mathematics teacher Nita Madra, aims to improve a student’s adeptness with various parts of technology that don’t involve coding. Unlike AP Computer Science, AP CSP explores how to use technology in everyday life.

120 students enrolled across the 4 periods the course is offered. “It is more about educating people about computer science,” said Madra. “It’s not just coding—there is so much more to computer science. There are 7 big ideas in this course that we are going to cover, so there is some coding that we will do, but a lot of it is learning how the internet works.”

Senior Lauren Sampson took AP Computer Science prior to AP CSP, and noticed a big difference in the amount of coding.”We’re going to be using JavaScript, so I think that 40% of the class is expected to be coding and it’s all going to be in JavaScript,” said Sampson.

The amount of coding associated with traditional computer science classes can discourage sign ups, according to Madra. “When students take the 1st computer science class, which is coding, and some people struggle with that, and it just drives them off,” Madra explained. She added that AP CSP shows students that there are different entry points into the world of computer science.

Sampson said she believes “the goal of [AP CSP] is to introduce technology in, sort of, a more friendly way.”

In fact, some aspects of the class have nothing to do with inputting functions. “We are not only coding, but we also are learning about how computers work,” said junior Grant Harper. This approach aims to aid students in a growing technological world by educating them on a broader scope of technology, as explained in the course’s syllabus.

“Another thing that is important in this class is working in pairs and groups and learning how to work with other people,” said Madra, emphasizing the project-based nature of the course.

“Learning computer science is kind of like learning how to read and write and do math,” said Madra. She believes it takes time and patience to understand computers and that this new course may expand opportunities for students to engage with technology.