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Computer Science AP added as a new elective class

With the growing relevance of computers and technology, schools across the nation are
implementing courses gravitated towards the need for technologically sophisticated students. Next year, Spring Valley will do the same, implemented in the form of advanced placement computer science principles. The course is expected to arrive next year, granting students interested in the field the opportunity to get a head start.

AP CSP will teach students the fundamental skills needed to build computer programs and understand the science behind computing itself.

“The course teaches students not just how to build programs, but to understand how a computer works” said Vida Bierria, the course instructor. “Computers are a big part of everything now. They’re used in everything you can think of, things like business, medicine, teaching, and things that you wouldn’t think have much use of computer tech like farming or sports.”

As the importance and versatility of computer science increases, its application purposes do as well, increasing the need of computer scientists, programmers and software developers. The need is so great that in 2015, the US Bureau of Labor estimated that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer science jobs open with no one to fill them. This deficit has created a push for both public education systems and higher education to endorse the subject.

“You can’t go wrong with a computer science degree,” Bierria said. “Every field uses some aspect of computer science. Even if you don’t want to become a computer programmer specifically, the knowledge is applicable in most fields.”

The course will feature five core units teaching students skills varying from the internet to programming to big data and privacy management.

Based on statistics, having a computer science course at high school is a rarity today. College Board estimates that only 10 percent of high schools offer a computer science course, and the number of computer science courses offered in high schools nationwide has decreased almost 20 percent since 2005. These statistics are startling in a world so dependent on computer technology and their applications.

“I’d be interested in the course,” says Alex Reyes, a junior who signed up for the course in the class selection list. “It sounds like an interesting class.”

The skills taught allow for students to think creatively on how to tackle problems. In a learning environment where students learn for the sake of acing a test or how to do as many problems in a set amount of time such as the SAT/ACT, students forget the importance of creativity. Steve Jobs once famously said “I think everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”

The course will be taught through Code.org, a comprehensive learning website which encompasses all units in AP CSP.

“I already code, so taking the class will help me learn even more for programs and things I’ll make in the future,” junior Elham Tamken said.

“I think allowing students to see how their skills can be applied and letting them have some freedom with that will make the course appealing compared to other classes which teach skills but don’t show students how they can be applied.” said Bierria.

As a test of skill for the end of the year, students can take the AP Computer Science exam in May, giving them the opportunity to earn college credit for the course.

“This (AP credit) earns students college credit like any other AP class, but it also gets them ahead of others in a field that is desperate for people. I think the course is a good option for any student whose unsure of what they want to do and want to experiment with something new,” said Bierria.

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