WINSLOW — For those strange with computer technological know-how, “beauty” and “joy” are probably not the first phrases the concern brings to mind. But for college kids at Winslow High School, the case may additionally soon be exceptional. Next yr, the college will introduce a university-stage magnificence titled none other than the “Beauty and Joy of Computing.” To debut in the fall, the magnificence will train college students each programming abilities and the “social implications of computers.”
The yearlong route, open to sophomores thru seniors, will prepare students to take the AP Computer Science Principles examination in May. It obtained unanimous approval from the Winslow school board at an assembly Monday night after passing the district’s curriculum committee.
As faculty board member John Ferry turned quick to point out, the class’s call sounds unusual. It comes from the University of California–Berkeley, in which the curriculum changed into piloted in 2010 as a college direction for non-computer technology majors. The elegance changed into later tailored for use inside the high school Advanced Placement software.
Lauren Mock, the system manager of Beauty and Joy of Computing at Berkeley, said 4,500 excessive school students across the united states of America used the “BJC” curriculum as instruction for the AP Computer Science Principles exam within the 2017-18 faculty year. She becomes unsure how a lot of the college students attended schools in Maine. According to Code.Org, simply 30 faculties inside the country currently offer an AP computer technological know-how path.
The route teaches the amateur-pleasant drag-and-drop programming language Snap! Along with the “social implications of computers,” consistent with the syllabus. Students will use Snap! To create algorithms that can, for instance, simulate highway site visitors or graph statistics to help become aware of trends. Topics of dialogue range from massive data and cybersecurity to how the internet is dependent.
“It offers a better understanding of ways computer systems work — it’s now not simply programming,” stated Julie Houston, who teaches Winslow High School’s pc science training. “But they do several programming on Snap! That teaches them more about what clearly goes on obtainable in technology. It’s no longer simply sitting down and writing a program that’s going to calculate how a whole lot of change any individual has or something like that. And it stays up on an era. We’re continuously talking, having discussions via information articles approximately all the changes that are taking place.”
While the brand new course is the first inside the department with an AP designation, Winslow High School has blanketed pc science in its curriculum for numerous years.
Currently, college students can take Computer Applications, Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD), Multimedia Web Design, and Computer Pre-Engineering as unmarried-semester electives. The school also gives a yearlong Computer Programming direction. Each student must take as a minimum one semester-lengthy computer direction so one can graduate, though they can opt to take extra as electives.
Houston stated this semester that she is coaching all 5 computer technology courses the school offers at an equal time. “What they sign up for is what I teach,” she said. Class sizes range from sixteen to 21 college students. While Houston said she became satisfied to see increased interest in laptop guides this semester, she also stated that the instructions had remained male-ruled. Only two out of sixteen college students enrolled in Computer Programming this 12 months are women.
“I’d like to push for more girls to be programmers due to the fact I enjoyed it again in college,” noted Houston, a University of Maine at Farmington graduate. “(The women I train now) are virtually excellent programmers. They do just in addition to the men do. But yes, there are a long way, much fewer girls in programming. They’re more likely to enroll in the (Computer Applications). Sometimes I do get girls inside the CAD instructions, however mostly boys.”
The call for laptop technology is increasing. Computer and information technology jobs are projected to grow thirteen percentage quicker than the common of all occupations within the USA from 2016 to 2026, consistent with the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In Maine, that equates to roughly 750 net jobs added in that point body. Computer and information era jobs in Maine had an annual mean wage of $79,031 in May 2017, whilst the implied annual salary for all occupations in Maine turned into $ forty-five, three hundred in May 2017, in step with the Bureau of Labor’s Occupational Employment Statistics.
According to Code.Org, if college students analyze pc technological know-how in excessive college, they are six instances much more likely to be most important in university. Women are 10 instances more likely. Yet, simply 23 percent of Maine students who took an AP Computer Science exam in 2018 had been women.
Eleventh-grader Carrie Selwood enrolled in Computer Programming, said she had determined the course to be valuable. So ways, she stated, she has discovered the way to program with the laptop languages Snap!, Alice and Python and could learn Java by the stop of the 12 months.
“I took it because I’m no longer sure what I need to do for my future yet, and programming is always a good step inside the right path,” she stated. Right now, the class is about the use of code to create drawings and animations. “Depending on what you want to do, all of these (languages) can be useful, especially in this day and age.”
“It’s a particular pace and topic than something else in the college,” said senior Nick Tiner, who is additionally a Computer Programming scholar. “History, English, and foreign languages are all kinds of equal, fashionable stuff. But with pc stuff, it can practice to your possible fundamentals in college or — I don’t recognize — learning about how a pc itself works. It’s simply extra exciting. It’s absolutely unique than something else.”
Houston stated she found out approximately the Beauty and Joy of Computing curriculum from Technology Director William Backman, who works with Waterville, Winslow, and Vassalboro faculties.
There are upwards of 15 other corporations that have created laptop technological know-how curricula designed for excessive school use. Still, the Beauty and Joy of Computing are one of the simplest College Board-recommended AP-level services that do not value any money to put in force. Even the textbook, “Blown to Bits,” is unfastened as a digital reproduction online.
“They’re seeking to push computer technological know-how so much that they’ll even just (cowl the expenses of a trainer attending) a training as long as they may simply teach one laptop technology elegance,” Houston stated. She attended a weeklong education at the Beauty and Joy of Computing curriculum in Fairfax, Virginia, ultimate summer season, which became paid for using Code.Org and other countrywide organizations.
Houston stated she hopes Winslow’s new course, with its interdisciplinary awareness, will attract students who would possibly in any other case no longer be inclined to take a programming magnificence — or maybe an AP route.
“I suppose that there are a few kids out there that probably this may be their only AP class,” she stated. Messalonskee High School is the best place for faculties that give AP Computer Science Principles, which Nick Hart has taught there for about five years. Messalonskee High School Computer Science instructor Karen Kelley also teaches Web Design, a dual-enrollment course with Thomas College that permits college students to earn both excessive school and university credit, just like the Advanced Placement program.
Waterville Senior High School recently received an $881,000 furnish from the Harold Alfond Foundation to increase a computer technology program, even though the one-credit course its miles piloting in the fall will no longer have an AP designation. “They’re pursuing this slight one-of-a-kind route,” Backman stated.
Maine has long been at the back of the curve in pc science training relative to the rest of the kingdom. Waterville High School did no longer offer any computing lessons this yr, in step with Backman. Students who want to get worried about coding in Waterville usually locate extracurricular outlets rather. “There are casual opportunities for computer programming, and that is regularly thru the Lego robotics competition, which takes place at the junior high stage,” stated Backman.
In 2017, the Legislature passed a bill to establish an assignment force to “develop a knowledgeable strategy to integrate computer science into the State’s skill ability-primarily based excessive faculty diploma necessities, as well as to show all college students to laptop science as a fundamental ability and as an ability profession direction.” The organization issued a file in January 2018 outlining six guidelines for the state to bear in mind imposing to deal with the hassle.