Tuesday, September 15, 2015

New Free APCS curriculum using Processing and GitHub

I found this on a mailing list last week. I haven’t looked to closely at it since we haven’t decided to go with AP CSP at my school yet but it sounds interesting.

I posted my new APCS course that uses Processing and GitHub at:


In my opinion, it's about as fun, friendly and accessible as any APCS course can get. I got an NSF funded mini-grant through Bryn Mawr College and Southern Methodist University and to develop, teach and share this course. I've been using Processing to teach APCS since the 2008-2009 school year, so the projects are all classroom tested and ready to use. If you are not familiar with Processing, check out http://processing.org. Processing is a beginner friendly Java programming environment with many easy to use graphics tools. It's also become quite popular in "maker culture."

I realized with the demise of the case study that I could teach the entire APCS course with Processing. It will run any Java code within the APCS Java subset. So last year I went about redoing my course. It covers all the topics of APCS. I think there are several reasons you might want to check it out:

  • Minimal configuration and easy to use software. You could teach it on chromebooks if you had to, and you don't need to have Administrator privileges to install Processing on your school's computers.
  • Open ended projects that encourage creativity. This helps classroom management as students are motivated to add features to their programs, even if they have completed all the required parts.
  • Students leave the course with a portfolio of their work on GitHub, a recognized professional tool and industry standard.
  • It's free
  • It's fun

If you are interested, I'd encourage you to work through the sample assignment that demonstrates the basic workflow. If you are still interested, check out the chemotaxis project which models how biologists use random walks to study how organisms look for food.

Each project comes with a README with specific instructions, as well as links to samples of student work. There are also links to voluminous PowerPoint presentations that cover the APCS topics that the particular project is meant to address.

So check out http://apcslowell.github.io and help yourself to anything that interests you. Email me a copy of your faculty id on your official school email, and I can send you some quizzes as well. Don't hesitate to ask if you've got any questions.

Art Simon
Lowell High School
San Francisco, CA

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