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Monday, June 26, 2017

Top-Ten: Why Learn Coding in High School (and ... get college credit to boot)

Top-10 Reasons: 

Why You Should Sign-up for AP Computer Science Principles

 By Margaret (Peggy) Morrow, Ph.D.

Homeschool Connections is offering a brand new AP-level Computer Science course in the upcoming school year. We hope you'll consider joining us! 


  1. To Help You Discern God’s Will. According to Bishop Barron’s recent eBook, How to Discern God’s Will For Your Life, in the end, all discernment boils down to one ultimate goal: finding the path of greatest love. If you are passionate about all things tech, this course will help you discern whether you should pursue further study. If you find God’s will calls you to only have some basic background in order to follow the path of greatest love He is calling you to, you’ll be prepared for your vocation!
  2. You Can Love Computer Science Without Being a Fan of Video Games and All Things Tech. Okay, I admit it, I worked in the field of computer science for almost 20 years, and I am not a fan of video games! Additionally, my spouse loves having and using the latest technology while I am happy with a flip phone. My gifts include: organizing data and structures, and listening to people who are far more gifted than me in math, science, and the creative aspects of projects. With their help, I can document, explain, and package their work for customers. I love teaching computer science!   
  3. Apply Your Special Talents and Interests. Students get to choose both what they create and what they research for the in-class portion of the exam. Additionally, they get to choose what software tool they use to create their products!!! Do you like animation, or would you like to research the evolution of computer animations in children’s movies? Are you a fan of a specific virtual reality game? Would you like to explore computing’s role in the evolution of weather modeling? Do you want to know how the Vatican keeps its cyber systems secure? Since computer science is applied everywhere in our world, you can explore your own unique creative perspective.
  4. Needed Skills for a Variety of Occupations and Ability Levels. I once went on a mission trip to Honduras and relied on the limited amount of Spanish I had learned in middle school. My basic understanding of the language allowed me to communicate, read road signs, restroom signs, greet people, and enjoy the great culture. For situations that required a language expert, I was blessed to have an NSA Spanish language translator traveling with me! Since the tools and products of computer science are a part of all 21st-century occupations, having at least a basic understanding of the structure of programming languages and how products are created will help you to navigate foreign territory even if you only know the basics.
  5. Make Amazing Apps! The course will make use of the Mobile-CSP Curriculum, which was developed by two Catholic Colleges:  Trinity College and The College of St. Scholastica.  According to the project's’ website: you will learn computer science by building socially useful mobile apps. In addition to programming and computer science principles, the course is project-based and emphasizes writing, communication, collaboration, and creativity.  So you will use multiple skills!
  6. Enormous Career Possibilities - job openings in computer science related fields are growing faster than most other occupations according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics!!! Additionally, the opportunities exist in lots of sectors of the economy. For example, computer science professionals work everywhere both geographically and professionally including hospitals, municipalities, corporations, diocesan offices, schools, governments, Kansas, New York, Ireland, Dubai, your home office, etc.
  7. In-class Collaborative Exam - AP Computer Science Principles is the first and ONLY AP course offered to High School students with an in-class portion of the AP exam. This portion of the exam counts for 40% of the exam grade.  If you like working with a partner, 24% of the in-class exam can be created either with a partner or individually.  In the 2016-2017 school year, the first year the course was launched, the course was very popular with 45,000 students completing the exam!
  8. Dress Code - the field of computer science accommodates all tastes in dress code.  For example, some firms require formal dress while others only require that you are dressed.  For the later, a tee-shirt and shorts are apropos.  Whatever your style, you’ll find a job that will support your tastes!
  9. Culturally Diverse Workplace - because computer scientists are in short supply, the U.S. tends to import workers from around the world.   Additionally, jobs in other countries are plentiful.  Working in the field of computer science provided me with the experience of being able to learn about and experience other cultures.  For example, after spending the day going to church and hiking with my family, a Mexican coworker gave me beautiful Guadalupe candles as a thank you gift.  Additionally, I learned first-hand about the 1989 Tiananmen Square student-led protests from a coworker that had been there!
  10. Protection from cyber crimes and cyber warfare - From the time of Adam and Eve through more recent times the technology of crime and warfare has evolved.  Additionally, cyber crime and cyber warfare are both on the rise.  Recent problems with the U.S. election, malware attacks on personal and corporate computers, and the rise of fake news testify to the growing problems.  Likewise, the success of various attacks indicates that both individuals and countries need to build-up their computer science based defense systems.  Recent estimates project the U.S. economies’ cost of cybercrime as ranging between $450 Billion to $2 Trillion dollars a year, and cyber warfare costs run in the trillions of dollars. In order to minimize the impact, corporations, individuals, and governments are increasing their spending on computer science-based products to defend against both threats.  Consequently, skilled individuals are needed to ward off attacks on the power grid, businesses, personal identity and credit, and government.   On a personal note, I am currently the beneficiary of three different credit monitoring services due to workplace and retail hacks. Despite these services, I wonder where and when the next personal threat will arise.

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