Java: A Whole New Language

February 19, 2016

The electrical whir of computers hums through the room as AP Computer Science students type with vigour, sitting in rows. Their screens fill with text in Java language as students program various Java-run applications.

AP Computer Science is a class that prepares students for similar courses in college as well as careers in the field of Computer Science. It is the AP version of Computer Science I, which introduces students to introductory programming and study of algorithms and basic data structures. The class counts as a math credit if taken after Algebra II, which counts towards Foundation High School Graduation plan.

“Computer Science is all correspondence with computer systems, whether desktop support, digital graphics, software engineering, or quality assurance,” said teacher Bryan Johnson.

Ambitious students compete in Computer Science competitions across the district. They also attend school sponsored tournaments such as UIL Computer Science and HP CodeWars, and prepare by attempting problems after school from past competitions. These competitions improve students’ logic skills and teaches them to plan ahead.

“The students who prepare for the competitions study and go over materials from past competitions. Each competition creates their own problems that require programmatic solutions.  The teams consist of three team members, and they share the tasks with their own form of time management,” said Johnson.

The Computer Science team discusses programming concepts and learn how to apply those to create new programs in Java language. Last week, students learned how to extend pre-existing code rather than writing new code for every project.

Being able to find the root of a problem and solve it as well as being adaptable are important skills developed in Computer Science students. When one cannot figure out the cause of a problem, that person is encouraged to seek help from friends.

“I encourage peer tutoring to bolster the concept of teamwork and understanding that it is okay not to know everything. Asking questions about a problem is important in a career,” said Johnson. “When errors arrive, I walk them through understanding the issue at hand and let them try to uncover the solution themselves. Sometimes we’ll discuss it as a class and students will chime in their ideas on how to process a solution.”

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