Computer Science students spread enthusiasm for coding

students pose for a picture

How do you learn more about a high school elective that may seem out of reach? You try it. That’s how members of the Bethlehem Central High School’s Computer Science Honor Society (CSHS) are hoping to get more of their peers interested in the subject they feel passionate about.

On Dec. 15, nearly 40 students joined the CSHS students for an Hour of Code, where the students challenged themselves to learn more about computer science.

During the afterschool coding event, several of the CSHS students provided introductory lessons for those who had no experience. For other students looking to advance their knowledge of computer science, they got to tackle seven pre-selected coding problems. The problems were designed to start out relatively simple and become progressively more challenging. The high school students used the free, online coding platform Trinket for their Hour of Code.

In the spring, the high school Honor Society students hope to expand their outreach by working with middle school students to introduce them to coding and to answer questions about computer science classes at BCHS. These “Code Along” sessions at the middle school are expected to return in 2022 after being sidelined by the pandemic.

The Computer Science Honor Society also keeps in contact with recent BC grads who have or are studying computer science in college. In November 2020, the group held a Computer Sciece and STEM Grad Forum. You can listen to four BC alums describe their path from high school to college-level coursework to what their careers might look like after college.

The high school offers the following Computer Science electives within the mathematics department:

Introduction to Computer Science

Grades 10-12 (Pre-Requisite: Geometry)

This course is a broad introduction to a variety of fundamental topics in computer science. Students will consider problems in an application area that can be solved with software. Students will be introduced to important areas of computer science including abstraction, computer organization, representation of information, history of computing, ethics, and the development and evaluation of algorithmic solutions using an appropriate programming environment. This course may be taken for college credit through a partnership with Siena College.

Discovering Computer Science

Grades 10-12 (Pre-Requisite: Algebra I, or Algebra I AB, or EXCEL Algebra IB)

This course is designed as an introduction to computer science for high school students who want to express themselves creatively and solve problems that are interesting to them using computational devices. This course is designed for students that have little or no experience studying computer science. Through a series of engaging, hands-on labs and projects, students learn the fundamentals of computer programming using the block-based language Snap! Students will also study the World Wide Web, designing and creating their own website using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Finally, students will explore drawing, animation, and problem-solving using Python. Throughout the course, computing history and current events in computer science will be incorporated. Special topics in computer science such as encryption, human-computer interaction, rapid prototyping, and others may be explored.

Advanced Placement Computer Science

Grades 10-12 (Pre-Requisite: AP Computer Science Principles or Introduction to Computer Science)

AP Computer Science is an introductory college-level computer science course that emphasizes object oriented programming methodology as well as problem solving. The course emphasizes the process of problem solving in addition to the solution itself. High-level thinking skills are developed as students utilize “real-life” skills such as problem analysis, organizing a solution and knowledge of computer control. Students will learn JAVA programming language to meet the goals of the course

In addition to the courses listed above, an AP Computer Science Principles course is offered as part of Technology and Engineering Educatiton.

Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles

Grades: 9-12  (Pre-Requisite: Introduction to Engineering & Design or Discovering Computer Science and Algebra I)

Using Python as a primary tool and incorporating multiple platforms and languages for computation, this course aims to develop computational thinking, generate excitement about career paths that utilize computing, and introduce professional tools that foster creativity and collaboration. Computer Science Principles helps students develop programming expertise and explore the workings of the Internet. Projects and problems include app development, visualization of data, cyber security, and simulation. PLTW is recognized by the College Board as an endorsed provider of curriculum. Students will take the AP Computer Science Principles exam in May. This is one of the PLTW classes that may also satisfy the STEM AP requirement for AP + PLTW. A lab fee will be charged to cover the cost of materials for project work.