Computer Science classes offer ample opportunity for students

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Computer Science classes offer ample opportunity for students

RM students in AP Computer Science complete an assignment in class.

RM students in AP Computer Science complete an assignment in class.

Photo by Ashley Ye

RM students in AP Computer Science complete an assignment in class.

Photo by Ashley Ye

Photo by Ashley Ye

RM students in AP Computer Science complete an assignment in class.

Eric Yi, Opinions Writer

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Looking through the RM course roster, possible science, math and social studies classes are listed extensively. But one subject area that is clearly underrepresented is computer science.

Currently, students on the computer science pathway follow a very linear progression. If RM offered more course options, students would have more freedom in learning about the specific aspects of computer science that interest them. However, this would be unrealistic and unnecessary.

Instead, RM should focus more on refining its current computer pathway to promote the subject more in the RM community and make it more attractive to students.

First of all, the possibility of more computer science courses is heavily limited by the number of available teachers who are qualified to teach the subject. RM only boasts two computer science teachers, and they have limited time, making more course options an unrealistic possibility.

Introducing more course options may also divide the students up, creating classes below the minimum class size. Last year, so few students had signed up for IB Computer Science 2 that they had to be merged with the only IB Computer Science 1 class. If more options were offered, this problem would be even more prevalent.

Admittedly, RM does lack higher-level programming courses for advanced computer science students. And since the current courses only teach students how to code with the programming language Java, the computer science pathway at RM could be improved if more courses
to teach different programming languages, such as Python, were introduced.

Nonetheless, the current course options already prepare students to easily learn new languages and advanced programming, and the resources that could be used to start new courses could be better used in other ways. Computer science teacher Heather Hennis said, “My aim is to teach students in the programming course programming concepts and principles. Just by chance we may use Java, but my aim is that, when you leave the course, you should not be intimidated by any language.”

Reflecting on his experience with RM’s current computer science courses, Computer Team captain and senior Daniel Williams said, “Not only do we have classes that cover the more basic concepts of computer science in general, through AP Computer Science Principles, we also have a course that teaches students Java programming, as well as IB Computer Science, which delves deeper into the business side of computer science and it as a discipline in general.”

If students truly want to learn more, they can still make use of abundantly available online resources rather than make the school put more of its finite resources into starting up new and unnecessary computer science classes. Students can also join RM’s Computer Team to learn beyond the scope of the foundations that are laid in class, making additional school course options even more unnecessary. “Computer Team provides an outlet for people who don’t have time during their schedules to learn about computer science,” Williams said.

In addition, instead of using resources to create new courses, the pacing and curriculum of the existing classes could be better adjusted to accommodate more knowledgeable students, while still supporting students with little to no experience who want to delve into the subject area.

Analyzing the whole of the RM computer science pathway, Dr. Hennis said, “The classes are comprehensive and the pathway is solid.” And generally, students seem to agree. Evidently, rather than offering more classes, RM should promote and improve upon its amazing existing computer science courses to offer students a better computer science education.