Science curriculum makes room for more computer science courses

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This month, students at Townsend Harris will be selecting which elective courses they would like to see on their programs in September.

As a result of the high demand for computer science classes, this year the elective brochure will include two advanced placement computer science courses: AP Computer Science and AP Computer Science Principles.

While AP  Computer Science will spark some familiarity, AP Computer Science Principles is a fairly new course and it is suggested that students take this class before AP Computer Science.

The principles class is designed as an introductory course to college level computer science. Students get a broader sense of the field.

While AP Computer Science is more focused on the coding aspect of the field, the principles course is designed to give students the essentials of the field and it’s impact on the world.

Current AP Computer Science teacher Timothy Connor suggests that students take the principles course before the regular advancement placement computer science class.

“The principles class is designed for people that want to get a general sense of what computer science is like on a college level. It’s less focused on the coding aspect of computer science and that the AP Computer Science is heavy on,” he added.

With the new course soon to be integrated in offered science classes, current AP Computer Science students have various opinions on whether or not they would have taken the principles class first. Some students with prior experience to coding claim that the old course [AP Computer Science] is not a difficult adjustment.

“I had prior knowledge of coding and computer science, but some of my classmates had difficulty in adjusting to how a computer functions and communicates with humans. I wouldn’t have first chosen AP Java since AP Comp Sci is a more general explanation of computer interaction and it explains more of the necessity of it being coded a certain way rather than plain java syntax,” said junior Max Prohorov.

As Max mentioned, many of those without prior exposure to code faced more struggle and frustration in the class assignments and lessons.  Even those with experience found some difficulty in the beginning of the course.

Nonetheless, the AP Computer Science course does cover the basics for all students. “It actually wasn’t that hard without prior knowledge because AP Computer Science A  doesn’t require it. Mr. Connor paired us up with someone who had some experience which also helped because if we didn’t understand something, we could ask our partners,” said sophomore Nivedita Attada.

The question of whether or not students should take AP Computer Science Principles prior to AP Computer Science A still remains, but it’s a question of their  experience and exposure to the field that should determine the decision.