Monday, June 25, 2012

Teaching APCS: Away with GridWorld say I!

What follows is a reply I made to a post on the AP CompSci ListServ regarding changing the GridWorld Case Study on the AP Exam:

Thanx for expressing the frustrations that many of us have had teaching large case studies in AP Computer Science over the years. These case studies have gotten more and more elaborate starting with Directory Manager in Pascal to Large Integers in C++ and Marine Biology in C++ and then in Java. BTW, both the Marine Biology and GridWorld case studies seem to me a lot like Conway's Game of Life gone amok. 

However, as a Math teacher, I must admit to being a bit partial to the Large Integer Case Study. One really nice feature of this case study was the use of operator overloading which we lost when we switched to Java. We really should do more with Scientific Computing or Computing Science applications in Math and Science. Maybe, we should even introduce multi-processor aka grid aka cluster computing!

I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels a lot of time presure in their AP course. I have a big problem teaching all the content in APCS plus a large case study with time to spare for review for the May exam to students who take this course as a first experience in Computer Science! In fact, I'm quite concerned that the new mini modules won't be all that mini! 

On a related note: some schools start the year in August but mine, as many others, starts in September. I thought something was being done about this such as early and late exam dates for AP exams in May?

Well, that's all folks!

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