Students in AP Computer Science A learn Java, AI


Bella Nisperos

Students taking AP Computer Science A solve algorithms such as the Fibbonacci Sequence or create user-based games.

As students pick classes for the upcoming school year, they may not consider AP Computer Science A (AP CSA), since this year is the first year it is offered at Lemont High School. The class is equivalent to a first semester computer science college course, and tests a student’s knowledge of Java, a popular programming language. More specifically, it focuses on topics such as objects, boolean expressions, and iteration.

The AP exam was first offered in 1984 and originally focused on Pascal and C++, other programming languages. The College Board made the switch to Java in 2003.

Currently, the test consists of 40 multiple choice questions and 4 Free-Response questions, all taken within three hours. 

This course is often confused with AP Computer Science Principles, another course offered by the College Board. AP Computer Science Principles is more broad and focuses on the main ideas of computing,while AP Computer Science A focuses on Java as students create and test code. AP Computer Science Principles is available to take as well, read more about it here.

AP CSA is Senior Julia Phelan’s first AP Computer Science class. “In APCSA, we learn how to code in Java by using CodeHS and a compiler called Eclipse to do projects,” Phelan said. “I definitely recommend taking other coding classes before this one because previous experience is really helpful.”

Although this class is an AP class, it is geared towards any experience level. Hani Al-Shafei, a second year teacher at Lemont, teaches the class. “My favorite part is when I see the gears turning in [students’] heads,” Al-shafei said. “I think the problem solving aspect is the most valuable skill that [students] take. If you are trying to develop problem solving skills this class is for you.”

One project students completed this semester involved cracking a code. They were tasked with randomly generating a 6-digit number, and then prompting a user to enter guesses until the correct answer was submitted. Additionally, for the final project, students created an adventure game with a hero that was tasked with slaying a certain amount of dragons. Each student had the creative liberty to take the game in their own, unique way, making each game a representation of the different possibilities that could be made while following the same basic idea.

If someone is hesitant on joining an AP class right away, the Department of Business and Technology is working on smaller, high school level courses for students to take. Currently, Lemont offers ‘Introduction to Computer Science: Programming” and two levels of “Web Design and Development.”

“If you want a technical class under your toolbelt, this class is going to prepare you for the future,” Al-shafei said.