New Computer Science course emphasizes bigger picture of programming


Andrea Schlitt

In Fall 2016, College Board will launch its new AP Computer Science Principles course, designed to integrate real life applications into the world of programming. For APCS teacher Debbie Frazier, this was a long awaited opportunity.

“I’ve worked for a long time in the industry,” Frazier said, “and there’s a lot more to it than just programming.”

APCSP will combine design, business and programming to provide students a highly creative environment. Since no previous programming experience is required, it is estimated that half of the students will have this prior knowledge while the other half won’t. Frazier’s solution to this problem: collaboration.

Open-ended projects, along with the standard lectures and notes, will be incorporated to allow students to explore programming. Students without experience can build on pre-made programs until they fully grasp the concepts.

“In programming, we intentionally want kids to learn how to build all of it from scratch,” Frazier said. “But here I’m saying why don’t we take something that already works and mess with it.”


Current APCS student sophomore Carolyn Duan sees programming in general as very open ended and creative. According to Duan, the current course emphasizes how to code well but doesn’t necessarily encompass the applications to larger projects, such as website design. She believes that the new course will attract an additional group of people to the world of programming.

“The new computer science class is a great way for more creative minds to get involved with programming,” Duan said. “I think that it’s a great addition.”

Sophomore Aastha Chawla, who is also a current APCS student, heard about the course and was instantly drawn to the idea of incorporating design into programming. Although she doesn’t believe that it’s necessary for her to take this course, she is considering to sign up as an APCSP tutor.

“I really like that it includes design and programming and that even people without experience can join,” Chawla said. “It’s great that these people will have an opportunity to gain exposure.”

Recognizing and addressing real world impacts in APCSP will allow students to create anything from websites to applications, and the structure of the class allows for a lot of exploration and experimentation.

“The amount of content could be taught in just a semester, so it leaves a lot of freedom,” Frazier said. “That’s really nice because ultimately, computer science can be really creative.”