As many students already know, one of the new classes coming to Mount Greylock’s ever-interesting selection of courses is AP Computer Science Principles. The course is a welcome addition to the school’s unfortunate lack of computer science courses in a world where the permanent presence of technology is quickly becoming the status quo. The College Board’s website describes the course as “a multidisciplinary approach to teaching the underlying principles of computation” and “a rigorous and rich curriculum that aims to broaden participation in computer science.” Math teacher Mr. Price, who proposed the course, has a similar take: “AP Computer Science Principles is a course to introduce computer science to students of all abilities… our goal by the end of the year is to say no matter what programming language you need to use, in high school or college or beyond, that you’d feel prepared to be able to do them after you finish the course.” However, Price’s views of the course go beyond the specific content stated by the College Board. While the official guide to Computer Science Principles says that big ideas include algorithms, data, and The Internet, Price states more abstractly that the main goals and biggest parts of the curriculum are “learning how to do something on your own… say, sometimes, you might need to accomplish a goal, you might need to learn how to do that on your own by searching the Internet, looking at forms, doing that research individually to try to hopefully successfully build something that works.”
Price also notes the difference between AP Computer Science A (another AP computer science course that is not yet offered at Greylock) and AP Computer Science Principles, noting that while the former is a Java-specific course, the latter teaches how to program in all languages that are commonly used today. In this way, AP Computer Science Principles is much more versatile. Price also goes over how the course offered currently, Exploring Computer Science, translates into the more challenging new class: “Our computer science program that we offer here currently is more of an introduction to what we’re doing. So I know that within Mr. Niemeyer’s class, they work up towards getting to what we’re going to continue doing.” Though taking Exploring Computer Science would be a good precursor to taking AP Computer Science Principles, Price stresses that it is not a necessity.
It is clear that this class will certainly be a breath of fresh air and provide a new learning experience for all involved. Price encourages any and all students to give it a try; AP Computer Science Principles will be as fascinating as it is useful!