Pace to Expand Computer Science Offerings

Ms. Snyder guides her AP Computer Science A students through the Object Oriented Programming unit. Photo: Charlie Hirsch

As the global emphasis on computer science and technology continues to escalate, so does computer science in the Pace Academy Upper School. Pace is hiring a second computer science teacher to the faculty who will offer two new courses in the fall: Computer Science Applications and AP Computer Science Principles.

AP Computer Computer Science Principles is a year-long course offered to juniors and seniors. “Principles is cool because it looks at technology with a broad scope,” said Pace registrar and computer science teacher Cristina Snyder. The course will involve basic problem solving and algorithms along with a little bit of programming. “Programming is just a piece of it; it’s more about looking at big data, how the internet works and what is cybersecurity,” said Ms. Snyder. “The class will look at technology through a global lens and analyze how it has shaped the modern world.”

AP Computer Science Principles is different from AP Computer Science A in that the latter is, according to Ms. Snyder, “full blown programming,” and students must have a deep understanding of general logic to succeed. “For the Principles class, all you have to do is be interested in technology,” said Ms. Snyder.

The CP semester elective Computer Science Applications will be developed with the new teacher and offer a flexible and new curriculum. Intro to Programming is a prerequisite to the elective, so students must have a grasp on programming before taking the course. The course could focus on Android app development, the advanced web or diving more into the “internet of things” and utilizing Arduino microcontrollers. The internet of things is the interconnection of physical devices with embedded computing devices through the internet.

Along with the two computer science courses, the new teacher will help coach the upper school robotics team. Interviews for the position will take place in the spring.

Computer science can sound like a daunting subject for some students, but Ms. Snyder has some advice for students trying to figure out their course selections for next year. “Honestly, anybody can take AP Computer Science Principles; if you are remotely interested in figuring how how the internet works or even if you are generally conscious of the new tech world, then you are a fit for the course,” she said. “I think it will be great for Pace to be able to expand its offerings. It is the reality of the world that computer science tools are extremely valuable for all people.”