CS: Principles

Computing and computer science are helping to shape and change our world. A solid understanding and facility with computational thinking, computing, and computer science is important, if not integral, to being part of a well-educated and informed citizenry. Although the computer science community has worked diligently to create intellectually rich and engaging courses, not all students have had the opportunity to take advantage of these courses. In particular, many students, particularly female students and those from underrepresented minority groups, are either choosing not to enroll in or do not have access to courses, materials, and role-models in computing and computer science. In response to this identified problem, members of the computer science community are developing a curriculum framework for a new AP Computer Science: Principles course, designed to complement the existing first course in computer science modeled by the AP Computer Science A course. This annotated course outline highlights the novel aspects of the Principles course and then provides a brief explanation of each Big Idea and Computational Thinking Practice that will comprise it.

AP Computer Science: Principles is designed to introduce students to the central ideas of computing and computer science, to instill ideas and practices of computational thinking, and to have students engage in activities that show how computing and computer science change the world. The proposed course is rigorous and rich in computational content, includes computational and critical thinking and skills, and engages students in the creative aspects of the field. Through both its content and pedagogy, this course aims to appeal to a broad audience.

Computing Principles for All Students’ Success (ComPASS)

A key theme of the Principles course is its focus on creativity. Dr. Diane Baxter, Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center’s Education group, and Dr. Beth Simon, Director of the Center for Teacher Development, at UCSD have formed the ComPASS to help disseminate their CS Principles curriculum based around the Alice programming language. Alice is a very user-friendly and creative 3D world-building program designed to help teach computer science to kids using a visual ‘drag-and-drop’ method of building programs. Learn more about ComPASS.


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