AP Computer Science Encodes Knowledge in Students

“The lessons are very interactive and the students really love it,” said Ms. Menard.  Photo credit: Mohima Oishe

“The lessons are very interactive and the students really love it,” said Ms. Menard. Photo credit: Mohima Oishe


If you applied for AP Computer Science A last term, you probably noticed a new course alongside it: AP Computer Science Principles, or AP CS Principles for short. For the first time, Midwood High School has offered this college level course for students interested in the world of modern technology. 

Unlike AP Computer Science A, a java programming class, AP CS Principles is an introductory course in which students learn the global impact of computing and technology on the world. Some of the many  topics you can expect to learn about in this class are how computers communicate, data and privacy, digital information, introduction to programming, and building apps. 

“It’s about the big ideas of computing,” said Ms. Wendy Menard, who teaches AP CS Principles and Trigonometry at Midwood. 

In class, Ms. Menard enjoys using Code.org, a site dedicated to widening access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and minorities. She has the students partake in two different types of lessons called “plugged” and “unplugged.” Plugged lessons are done online and unplugged lessons are more “old school” and done on paper. Code.org also provides a lab environment online that eases the students into programming.  

“The lessons are very interactive and the students really love it,” said Ms. Menard. “It’s just figuring out the best way to engage all the students and get them talking about it.” 

Unlike many of the conventional AP exams in May, the test for Computer Science Principles is graded differently. 40% of the grade comes from tasks that students do during the year, such as completing projects on their own that are uploaded directly to College Board. There are two different types of tasks: “explore tasks,” in which the students research a topic and its global impact, and “create tasks,” where they design an app. The other 60% is based on the multiple choice exam taken in May.

“This class is definitely different from most APs,” said Haroon Mirza ‘19, who takes AP CS Principles.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many jobs in the future are going to involve some level of expertise in computer science. For example, the number of jobs for software developers will increase by 24% from 2016 to 2026. 

“I see myself benefiting a lot from this class due to the increase in the use of technology,” said Roie Cohen ‘19, who also takes AP CS Principles. “I know most classes have benefits, but this class could really help you in many careers you want to pursue.”

Ms. Menard said, “It’s really important, timely stuff. This is the way of the world, and it's amazing how little we actually know about it.”

If you are interested in learning more about the AP Computer Science Principals course, check with your guidance counselor or ask in the Math Department office, room 357.

FeaturesCasey Levinson