Computer Science is a rapidly growing discipline at the Upper School. This year, roughly one fourth of the sophomore class was enrolled in AP Computer Science A. Students are attracted to the subject and, until recently, only the same set courses had been taught, math department head Paula Evans said.
Last year, a group of Evans’ students approached her with concepts they wanted to learn in computer science. As a result, Evans filed for a new directed study. Besides this experimental directed study, the computer science club will being teaching classes in Python as an extracurricular.
“[A group of kids] who are going to be seniors said, ‘look, we just took AP Comp Sci A in our Junior year, we’re going to take Design and Data Structures, [but] we can’t take Advanced Topics. We want a course where we can do some interactive web programming,” Evans said.
Computer science is getting more popular among students and adapting to the influx in students, according to Evans. At the end of last year, math and computer science teacher Jacob Hazard left the school, so Evans hired Jason Fieldman ’99 to act as a specialized computer science teacher.
Fieldman teaches one Advanced Topics course, three Design and Data Structures courses and one Precalculus: Trigonometry and Functions course. Fieldman has had experience developing iPhone applications and working for multiple online companies.
A lot of students who express interest in computer science are “hobbyists.” These hobbyists, Evans said, have taken a variety of computer science courses outside of school and expect a form of continuation. Often times the level of expertise and interest of these hobbyists is more advanced than the school courses.
Both Evans and Fieldman have proposed ideas for new courses. Fieldman has proposed a course he calls “HW Startup.” This course would address organization, solve legal issues and teach product design and teamwork.
Fieldman says the class would be an opportunity for students to work on a programming project on their own with limited teacher oversight.