North Salem High School adds Python coding course for 2022-2023 school year


Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

Beginning next school year, North Salem High School students will have the opportunity to further their computational thinking skills through a new course offering. “Introduction to Computer Science with Multimedia and Python” will be available to students through a unique partnership with New York’s Siena College.

Python is one of the world’s most popular programming languages in coding and data science. The open-source language is used for a range of applications, including web and game development, artificial intelligence and machine learning, software development and graphic design.

“With this Python course, kids can really sink their teeth into digital media,” said Ellen Falk, mathematics and computer science teacher at North Salem High School. Python is considered a friendly computer language. It is text-based, making it more accessible for beginners who are interested in exploring the world of computer science. “This is where the growth is. Information technologies are going to be the highest growing fields,” Falk said.

Falk believes that every student should take Introduction to Computer Science, regardless of whether they plan to pursue a degree or career in the field.

“It’s more than just coding and programming,” Falk explained. “It’s about problem solving and using computational thinking strategies to their fullest to create a model to solve a problem.”

Students who take Introduction to CS with Multimedia & Python have the opportunity to earn three college credits from Siena College at a significantly reduced price. The course follows the Siena’s CSIS110 course syllabus, though Falk said that she’ll have the ability to adjust the pace of the class to match North Salem students’ needs.

Awarding credits via transcript is a departure from traditional Advanced Placement courses. Students in the new Python course will not have to sit for an AP exam. Rather, Falk will partner with the college to design exams. The earned credits will appear on a transcript the way any other 3-credit college course would.

To take Multimedia & Python, North Salem students must have completed Algebra I, which is typically taught in 8th or 9th grade. Falk says that the new course, in combination with the school’s existing AP CompSci Principles course, means North Salem students will have the opportunity to graduate knowing two different styles of programming.

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

“What I’m trying to do is to create a stronger pathway for computer science at North Salem by having these two rigorous courses that require no background." Falk said. "These really are for novice students and truly are introductory courses.”

Falk is committed to attracting a diverse mix of students to the district’s computer science courses, a subject which has traditionally skewed very male. North Salem Middle High School recently earned the College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science Principles.

“It’s about changing the image of computer science,” Falk said. “Many people have a very narrow mindset of what it is. Most people think computer science and think coding. That’s only a small component of it. There’s so much more; there’s computational thinking, computer ethics…there’s so much more that you want to expose kids to.”

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