As I write this I am at St Joseph’s College in Patchogue, NY for their annual high school programming competition. There are about 35 teams from about a dozen or more high schools from Long Island and New York City. I’m hear largely to learn from the teachers here. What are their issues? What courses are they offering? How are enrollments? And more. BTW a number of schools are using Visual Basic and some are using Small Basic along with Java for APCS of course. Enrollments are in trouble is several schools with APCS only being offered every other year or having classes combined in some cases. But I have also been having some discussions about programming competitions in general and their academic value.
One teacher has been telling me about a top programming student who selected a math whiz with no programming background to his team. His idea is that this student can read the problems and develop a good algorithm which he can then implement. He believes this will save him time as the math whiz will be better about word problems. An interesting idea and we’ll see how it works out. Another teacher was telling me how much communication comes into play in these events. Teams who do well work together rather than having each student work independently on separate problems. Between problem solving, planning, communication and other soft skill he believes that students learn things that will help them in future careers. It sounds reasonable. In theory. Do teams really work that way? No idea but the teacher who talked to me about this coached the winning team.
Congratulations Bethpage High School. And to all the other teams as well. As I said in my remarks, any team that finished any of the problem is way ahead of all those students who couldn’t even think about competing.