George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

High School teachers learn the principles of computer science

August 10, 2019   /   by Ryley McGinnis

When teachers say learning never ends, they really mean it, especially the high school teachers who spent last week learning about computer science at George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus through the Beauty and Joy of Computing (BJC) organization’s summer camp.

The BJC camp was designed to prepare them to teach the AP computer science principles course.  “The number of these classes across the nation is expanding, and that’s really exciting, so this is meant to prepare high school teachers to teach this course,” says Neda Blackburn, one of the camp instructors. 

The AP computer science principles class offers an introduction to computer science, which makes it different from other technical courses taught in high schools. Blackburn, along with her co-instructor Kevin Tambara, are part of a nation-wide network helping teachers learn the value of this AP course and also how they can best engage their students.

“Other courses just touch on Java or other computer programs, but since this is more general, it is bringing more people and more females into the class,” says Blackburn.

Both Blackburn and Mason Engineering’s Executive Director of STEM Outreach Kamaljeet Sanghera say this course is all about giving access and opportunities to high school students. The goal is to prepare teachers to facilitate hands-on computer science and programming labs, support collaboration, and create equitable opportunities for students,” says Sanghera.  

Blackburn hopes that this course will open a door to STEM that students didn’t have before these technical courses were offered on the high school level.  “High school students need and deserve the opportunity to see what’s out there, and this [AP] class will at least then give them the basics of computer science, which is valuable,” she says.

Expertise