AP Computer Science joined the science curriculum

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In terms of scheduling routines, the pattern for new Townsend Harris classes seems to be the addition of a new  Advanced Placement science class at the beginning of each school year. The 2014-2015 one brought with it AP Biology, the year before AP Physics, and this year, AP Computer Science.

Students responded positively to the possibility of there being an AP Computer Science course offered at THHS. In fact, according to mathematics teacher Timothy Connor, who teaches the class, 130 students signed up. Its numbers even surpassed those of AP Physics, another highly requested class.

The sudden interest in the growing field of computer science ranges from wanting to learn for practical purposes to considering it as a potential career path. Senior Joanna Huo “[hopes] to learn about the programming behind the websites [she] uses everyday.” Senior Grace Ko, on the other hand, believes that “this class will help [her] see whether [she] wants to pursue a career in computer programming.”

Despite its popularity, many are still unsure of what to anticipate from the newly introduced class. “The AP Computer Science class is a bit of a mystery other than its curriculum… but I expect it will be successful; the class is filled with eager students and has an experienced teacher,” remarked junior Alex Chen.

Regarding how he intends to approach the class, Mr. Connor reasoned, “Copying off the board or out of the textbook  will only yield minimum success.  Because of this, much of the course will be hands-on projects. In order to be a programmer or Computer Scientist you have to explore and see how far you can stretch a concept.”

The class is geared towards educating students on how to use Java, a widely used coding language, and Eclipse, an integrated development environment (IDE) software. Once they become familiar with basic concepts, Mr. Connor “[hopes] that students [can learn] from each other by exploration,” which he feels “will give each student the freedom to work and advance at a pace they are comfortable with.”

While teaching two AP classes has “definitely added a little stress to [his] workday,” Mr. Connor recognizes that “it is important to bring a formal computer course to [the] math and science [department].” He added, “I’m sure there will be a few bumps along the way but looking at the curriculum and past exams I’m confident that the student in the course will be prepared.”