Computer Science Program Set to Expand at Carlmont
CAF Funding Enables Expansion
Just four years ago, Carlmont students interested in computer science classes had to go off campus to learn the basics of Java programming and mobile app development. Today, thanks to funding from the Carlmont Academic Foundation, students looking to explore the world of computer science have a number of classes to choose from.
It all started in 2011, when Carlmont teachers began offering Java Programming with an Oracle Academy class. As enthusiasm and funding grew, so did the course offerings. Last year, Carlmont partnered with the grassroots organization TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools), which helped supply volunteers and a loose curriculum, to offer two introductory and one AP Computer Science class.
“The TEALS volunteers make this program unique. They offer professional experience, planning, and a curriculum connected to what’s happening in the workplace,” said Introduction to Computer Science teacher Brian Ellis.
Next year, thanks to funding from CAF, course offerings will increase to three sections of Introduction to Computer Science, two sections of AP Computer Science, and a Mobile Development class for beginning students using App Inventor.
Introduction to Computer Science teacher David Lai, who has both undergraduate and graduate degrees in CS as well as industry experience, will survey a variety of topics in his class, including how hardware talks to software and how we see, produce, and edit videos. Students will learn Snap!, a visual, drag-and-drop programming language out of UC Berkeley, and learn to code in one or more languages.
“My class is perfect for students without prior experience, even kids who don’t think they are good at math,” said Mr. Lai. “They’ll become more analytical and technologically savvy. And, they’ll have fun.”
Students with more experience and proficiency in CS will find the AP Computer Science class a good fit. Teacher Karyn Voldstad, who taught the AP class this year and will continue next fall, said, “Students watch videos at home and spend much of the time in class coding. It’s very collaborative and the nature of education to come: students figure out much of what they need to do themselves, while solving problems. Even students who find it difficult tell me they look forward to class.”
To prepare for next fall, Teacher Kris Govani has been collaborating with University of San Francisco professor David Wolber to offer beginning students another computer science class—Mobile Development using App Inventor. This class will be completely new to the district and counts for A through G designation as an approved course for UC schools. Ms. Govanni, who recently ordered twenty Samsung tablets to use in the class, says students will learn tools and techniques to create apps for Android devices.
And for that small number of students who have gone beyond AP Computer Science? A few will be taking a post-AP class that will be mostly independent study.
All of these classes, which count as math electives, are available to Carlmont sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
When discussing the growth of the Computer Science offerings at Carlmont, teacher Karyn Voldstad said, “The offerings are increasing rapidly as more students and parents realize how compelling CS for a career. I think the reputation of the classes as fun and different is helping too.”