By Ilan Kaissar
Just two weeks into its short history, ICJA’s new STEM course, Computational Thinking, is already one of the most popular classes in the school. A class that at one time was almost cancelled, due to lack of interest, is now among the largest classes in the school, with close to 25 students currently registered.
The students in the senior elective class, which is taught by Rabbi Robinson, are learning how to do computer coding and programming in Python, a popular computer language named after a less-famous British comedy skit, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Python is among the most popular languages for teaching introductory computer science courses at top-ranked U.S. universities.
The course offers a tremendous experience for students who wish to study science outside of the more common areas of biology, chemistry and physics. It is also a fresh experience for students who never before engaged with the subject. Computer programming is becoming a valued skill in the professional sphere, so the students are getting a head start by beginning to code before finishing high school. For the students, it seems, the only downside is that the course is only one-semester.
Just this past weekend, according to The New York Times, President Obama said he will ask Congress for billions of dollars to help students learn computer science skills and prepare for jobs in a changing economy.
“In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill. It’s a basic skill, right along with the three R’s,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.