Rising Popularity of Computer-Science/Packer’s Comp-Sci Curriculum
By Nick Coleman and Anya Fonstein
While computer-science is not considered a core subject, it has taken on a life of its own within the Upper School, with the introduction of the Genius Bar, multiple clubs, and more students taking on computer-science electives.
“It’s interesting to know the ins and outs of computers,” says Zachary Garfield (‘19). “Out of college, being a computer programmer is the highest paying job.”
People all over the world and in New York share his sentiment. Bill De Blasio says that New York will have mandatory computer-science classes for all public schools by 2026, and he hopes to spark an interest in computer science in the youth of the future.
“Grades five through eight receive a quarter of computer-science a year,” says Dr. Benedis-Grab, the Head of Academic Technology and Computer-science.
Dr. Benedis-Grab talked about a recently added tech support program, the Genius Bar, where students can get help from fellow classmates with problems concerning their laptops. “There are more and more students attending [the Genius Bar],” said Dr. Benedis-Grab. “There are a lot of students interested in providing the help as well.”
At Packer, two new faculty members have been introduced to the computer science curriculum: Lewis Minsky, who teaches in the Upper-School, and Megan Clarke, who teaches in the Middle School, an effort that goes to show how the field is becoming bigger and bigger.
“[Computer Science] is becoming more central to our lives and to the jobs we get,” said Dr. Benedis Grab.
In response to growing importance of Computer-Science, Packer has continually promoted the computer-science curriculum in order to keep up with the rapidly growing field of technology.
“A lot of students get involved in computer science at Packer, because it’s really easy to do,” said Robert Vitali (‘17), co-leader of Packer Bytes.
Robert, known as “Rob Jobs” to his classmates due to his affinity for Apple technology, has done every computer science class at Packer, and is working on the Packer Schedule App.
“Any single idea or creation that you think of, you can create a program for it,” Robert explained, “[learning computer science] is basically just learning a second language.”
Robert has been working with Mr. Zachariev on computer-science since freshman year, and has taken every single computer-science class that Packer has to offer. His grade is the first to take computer-science courses at an AT-level. This allows them to get more creative in the projects they do, and gives the teachers more freedom.
“The resources at Packer really push for projects outside of the classroom” said Robert.
The computer-science curriculum is growing at Packer, and is becoming more relevant than ever.
“Computer-science is going to play a bigger role in the courses that we’re already offering,” said Dr. Benedis-Grab. “There is a lot of inter-disciplinary work with computer-science and other fields that’s going to become part of what students are studying.”
The rising interest and relevance of computer-science at Packer is partly due to the rising cultural popularity of coding, with prominent figures such as Mark Zuckerberg taking on the role of promoting it. More importantly, it is because of the teachers who allow for students to learn such a valuable skill that will help aid us in the present as well as the future.
As Bill Gates said, “technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”