STEM TECHNOLOGY The conference room was packed, a sea of college students and a din of chatter. It would be easy for four high school students to feel lost among the group of college students plus representatives from top tech companies like Apple and IBM as well as professors from Penn and other Ivy League institutions. But these four Prep students truly belonged, selected among just a handful of high school students to participate in a Hackathon at the University of Pennsylvania. “Hackathons help companies bridge the gap between what schools teach and what employers need,” said Teresa Hoffman, the Prep’s Computer Science Teacher who accompanied the students. “For our students, most of whom are novices, to be selected was a real honor and a chance for them to learn more about the field.” It is cliche to say that technology is important. In fact, it is more than that. Technology figures into nearly everything we do and touch. It isn’t simply nice to know...it is vital for students to learn technology, to give themselves access to this world that impacts their lives so deeply. At the Prep, Hoffman teaches several levels of Computer Science, from Intro to Programming to AP Computer Science. And while theory and technique is important, Hoffman makes sure that the students are learning practical information, too.
Students from the Robotics team test out their competition robots.
Enrique Feliciano ’17 is a student who greatly benefitted from the Prep’s technology offerings. When he entered SJP, Computer Science was a possible career choice in the back of his mind but he was more focused on medicine or engineering. It was Intro to Programming as a junior that influenced him to pursue Comp Sci in college. “The first time I was able to complete a project on my own, from my own work, my own knowledge, was so fulfilling,” says Feliciano, who recently received a full scholarship to Drexel to study Computer Science. “Mrs. Hoffman made it so interesting. She showed us the code of some of the games that we played and how it wasn’t very different from what we had already learned. That gave me confidence.”
Last year, Hoffman accompanied four Prep juniors to Penn each week to work with the chair of the computer science program to help underrepresented students learn more about the field in the hopes that they will major in computer science in college. One student worked to change his schedule to try and accommodate Calculus BC which is needed for most highlevel Comp Sci programs. “It is really important for our students to know what is possible, and understand the relevancy and impact programming will have in any field they choose,” says Hoffman. She also co-coaches the Robotics team with Science Teacher
Kristin Collins. The group made the playoffs in their first season and this year expanded to host a high school tournament of their own.
Published on Aug 17, 2017