AP Computer Science Principles: Exploring New Technologies


Megan Sheehan, Writer

This year, the AP Computer Science Principles class was offered for the first time. To gain college credit for the course, students must take a multiple choice test as well as submit two projects to the AP board. One project, the Explore Performance Task, asks students to research a computing innovation independently and write a paper on it. They also must create a digital artifact, such as a video or infographic about the innovation.

To create the artifact, students get the opportunity to research any innovation they choose. They are provided with 8 hours of in-class time to work on their project which is worth 16% of their AP exam.

“Being able to freely research a topic pertaining to the advancement of technology gives both a sense of freedom in learning and also adds some fun, which is nice,” stated sophomore Lance Witek.

Independent research has been proven to help students develop personal responsibility for learning to prepare them for college. It can also inspire students to discover fields that they are interested in.

I think the Explore Project makes students really consider how different technologies impact society. Often we consider technology very beneficial but do not necessarily look at both long-term positive and negative effects. Additionally, the Explore Project requires the students to really consider how to research and find credible sources as well as how to write in a way that communicates their thoughts in a concise and clear manner,” stated Ms. Rountree, the AP Computer Science Principles teacher.

In a poll, many students expressed that they enjoyed being able to choose any topic.

“I did my project on USB Type C, which is a new, better version of the USB that will soon be the new standard. I like that I am now more informed on the topic and I can share it with others,” Tahseen Robbani, a senior, commented.

Chima Ugwuegbulam, a sophomore, stated, “My project was on genetically engineered immune cells. I enjoyed the Explore Project because it is very intuitive in the art of researching. I also think it gave me better experience with writing papers.”

One challenge that many students face with the Explore Performance Task was creating the digital artifact.

“The hardest part of the Explore Performance task for me was making the digital artifact look appealing,” claimed Tahseen Robbani.

Also, students are challenged to use scholarly sources.

“Reliably getting sources and making sure everything is properly cited is likely the hardest part for me,” confessed Lance Witek.

In all, AP Computer Science Principles is a fun but enlightening class that every student should consider taking.
The best part of the course is the opportunity to explore many different and changing fields in computer science,” commented Ms. Rountree. “I also like the diverse group of students who enroll. Some are hardcore programming types, others are interested in how computer science can be applied to the career field they are interested in even if it is not computer science, and others have no idea what computer science is all about and just want to look at their options.”