About Our Computer Science Offerings
Many people are aware that STEM careers are in hot demand and offer an opportunity to make a great living. It comes as a surprise to many Americans, however, that Computer Science is the largest of the the STEM professions and offers a wide variety of work across all industries. Computer Science is a core requirement for most STEM majors. It is also an excellent area of study for people interested in communications and commercial art.
Wappingers offers a variety of courses that allow students to develop a base of understanding in computational thinking and to dream about possible careers in the wide assortment of computer science retlated professions.
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. These courses are 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 these courses 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 become immersed 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. Students often code in pairs. In addition to coding, students will learn about good game design to motivate their target audience, and 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. The curriculum, "Mobile CSP" was designed with contributions from the National Science Foundation. This course is equivalent to a college-level survey course in computer science. Students learn to program using MIT App Inventor. By the end of this course, students will master: loops, conditionals, variables, functions, parameters, return values, lists, UI design, and testing strategies. In addition, students will be exposed to various forms of data input and output via web variables for multi-player games, file imports/exports, and web APIs. Coding assignments grow in complexity throughout the year. Students make apps that reference the major areas in computer science that are studied throughout the course: data (decimal-binary-hex conversion app), big data visualizations (government statistics portrayed in a map app), artificial intelligence ("snapchat" app), cybersecurity (Diffie-Hellman key exchange), telecommunications (HTTP/DNS app), internet and social media integrations (various apps throughout the year). In addition, students are encouraged to read the news and discuss computer science related ethics.
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, Data Science, Business Information Systems, Accounting, Economics, 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 (70%) and a coding project that is programmed a month in advance of the test (30%). 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): This is the capstone course in computer science. It is a challenging curriculum that focuses entirely on the nuances of the Java programming language. In previous courses, students would have mastered variable types, arrays, loops, conditionals, functions, parameters and return values. CSA teaches the Java syntax for those concepts and the IDE environment for testing and running Java. Students without this background will find that there is a considerable amount of home study required to come up to speed on the basics of programming. In addition, CSA students are expected to master the abstract concepts of recursion, encapsulations, and polymorphism. The AP exam is in early May.
Prerequisites: Students will find success in this course if they have received a score of 85 or better in 1-3 years of any combination of the other computer science offerings noted above.
Audience: AP-CSA is intended for college-bound students and is an especially good choice for students who wish to study Computer Science, Business Information Systems, Math, Engineering or Physics in college.
Getting College Credit: Students must pass the AP-CSA 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" in the Technology Department and our Art offerings in Photoshop and Web Design.
Congressional App Challenge: Each year, the United States Congress hosts an app challenge with a hard deadline for projects on November 1. All students with a year or more of coursework in Computer Science are encourage to participate.
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, cybersecurity, 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 competitions such as Cyberstart America. A number of these competitions offer scholarship money to the top winners.