About Our Computer Science Offerings
Wappingers Central School District was predominantly an IBM community in the 1960s-1990s. Today, it is still a fabulous place to raise a family, but our local employers are much more diverse and many of our parents travel to Westchester or NYC for work in a wide variety of industries. Recently our course offerings in computer science were waning and in need of an update.
Today, the district is aware that the American business community as a whole cannot find enough qualified American citizens to fill many thousands of professional, high-paying jobs in the computer science category. The district is making a dedicated effort to rebuild our computer science offerings to allow students to pursue their passions in a wide variety of STEM careers across all industries.
Beginning in Grade 9
Computer Game Design and Mobile App Development: These one-semester courses introduce coding and computer science through block-based, drag and drop programming.
Audience: Girls and guys in 9th and 10th grade, but any age student is welcome and can benefit from learning the fundamentals of computational thinking. This year is a great opportunity to learn and explore possible interests for future study in high school or college, or just get a feel for the topic. Obviously, students interested in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) would find this course beneficial, but the design elements may be especially appealing to artists and the logic elements may be especially appealing to future lawyers.
Prerequisites: Students who have a passing grade on the Algebra Regents or are on target to pass the Algebra Regents by the end of 9th grade are likely to be successful in these courses.
Computer Game Design: In naming our first semester course "Games," we are trying to convey the light-hearted nature of the course. It is designed to be a low stakes environment for students to "get their feet wet" by coding fun stuff to learn about loops and conditionals, variables and functions and immerse themselves in the language of computer science. The course is based on SCRATCH, a powerful tool designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). SCRATCH's application programming interface is a childish metaphor, but it delivers a potent example of event-driven, object-oriented programming. Shhh... don't tell them they're learning! During this course, students will also get a taste of Photoshop to make game pieces, they will learn about the usefulness of different file types (Animated GIFs make great backgrounds for a game!), and they can experiment with cutting up or even coding sound files. They will occasionally code in pairs and learn about good game design to motivate their players. They will experience the software development life cycle. The end of this course previews the technology used in the next semester, MIT App Inventor.
Mobile App Development: The second semester course gets down to business. Once the students have learned the basics of coding and screen design, they are ready to incorporate persistent data in their applications. This allows us to flip into a business metaphor for the course as we design apps with specific customers in mind. In this course students will program with MIT App Inventor on standard workstations (Windows at school, but your Apple desktop will work at home too). App Inventor is a more sophisticated block-based programming language that more closely resembles script-based languages. Simultaneously, students will test their coding on Android devices that we have at school. At home, students can test with the desktop emulator or their Android or Apple phone or tablet. Testing even works on e-readers like the Amazon Fire. Emphasis will be placed on developing a community of learners. Students will get ample opportunity to work in pairs and teams to experience the Agile Design process while they flesh out real apps that really work... on their phone!
Visual Basic: The Math Department offers this traditional, script-based computer programming course. It is broken down into fall and spring semesters. In the catalog, it is called: CS1 and CS2.
Audience: This is a good choice for students with prior self-study in coding who wish to go straight to a script-based coding course.
Prerequisites: Students who have a passing grade on the Algebra Regents or are on target to pass the Algebra Regents by the end of 9th grade are likely to be successful in this course.
Beginning in Grade 10
AP Computer Science Principles: (AP-CSP) is a rigorous course for girls and guys in 10th grade and up. As a college-level survey in computer science, it includes programming as one of the elements, but it also includes the study of: data and artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, telecommunications, internet and social media integration, and ethics. Based on a nationally recognized curriculum called Mobile CSP, the coding elements in this class will be done with the block-based programming language: MIT App Inventor.
Audience: AP-CSP is a great choice for any student who wishes to study any STEM related field in college or trade school like: Computer Science, Business Information Systems, Accounting, Economics, Statistics, Math, Engineering of any sort, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science, Nursing, Pre-Med, etc. Additionally, AP-CSP would be a nice complement to your plan if you wish to become an entrepreneur or study any of the communication sciences like: Journalism, Web Development, or Social Media Marketing.
Prerequisites: AP-CSP is open to anyone who has successfully completed Computer Game Design and Mobile App Development in the Business Department and/or CS1 and CS2 (Visual Basic) with the Math Department and/or completed Geometry with an 80 or better AND is willing to put in the effort.
Getting College Credit: The Advanced Placement exam is a combination of multiple choice questions (60%) and student projects that are programmed several months in advance (40%). Students who receive a passing score on the AP-CSP exam usually receive 3 college credits, but check your intended college for specific information. (Note: Most Ivy League Colleges do not grant credit for any AP exams, but they also won't take you if you haven't shown your academic superiority by doing well in rigorous courses like AP... so, giddy-up!) This course has a weight of 1.1 on your weighted GPA and class rank.
Beginning in Grade 11 - Target for Grade 12
AP Computer Science A (Java Programming): Although it has been in the catalog for decades, typically, our high schools have not seen enough interest to run what used to be our second programming course, AP-CS-A (Java). In 2018-2019, with renewed interest in Computer Science, Wappingers was proud to be able to fill every seat for AP-CS-A.
This course is, and will continue to be, the capstone course in computer science. It focuses entirely on the nuances of the Java programming language.
Prerequisites: Students will find success in this course if they have received a score of 85 or bettter in 1-3 years of any combination of the other computer science offerings noted above.
Audience: AP-CS-A is intended for any college-bound student and is an especially great choice for students who wish to study any STEM related field in college like: Computer Science, Business Information Systems, Accounting, Economics, Statistics, Math, Engineering of any sort, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science, Pre-Med, etc.
Getting College Credit: Students must pass the AP-CS-A exam to receive up to 4 college credits for this course. Check your intended college for credit details. This course has a weight of 1.1 on your weighted GPA and class rank.
Other Opportunities in Computer Science
Courses: Wappingers Central School District offers a wide assortment of courses that students interested in computer science might also enjoy. Together these courses might create a truly enriched high school experience. Please check out our engineering program called "Project Lead the Way" and our Art offerings in Photoshop and Web Design.
FBLA: Wappingers High Schools each sponsor club chapters of Future Business Leaders of America. FBLA holds state and national competitions for game design, mobile application development, web design, computer security, network design, office application user skills, social media marketing, and introduction to computer science. These are great opportunities for students to work alone or in small teams to earn recognition and/or scholarship money. You must be an FBLA member to compete.
CyberStart America: John Jay supports any student who wishes to participate in scholarship competitions such as Cyberstart America. A number of these competitions offer scholarship money to the top winners.