BLOG POST BY PTAC MEMBER KATONA MILLER
I’m a freshman in college and for the last three weeks the experiences I have had were awesome, until today. We were assigned our first project in Computer Science 101 and only two days before the due date, my lab partner dropped the class, leaving me to do all the work alone, not that he was much help. I mean, he didn’t even know what he wanted to major in, just that he “liked computers”. I, on the other hand, have known I was going to be a Robotics Engineer since I was in middle school.
Middle school was the first time I got to take a robotics class. It was one of my favorite related arts classes, along with coding, well... all the STEM Technology classes were great even Hydroponics and Fish Farming. By the time I was ready for high school, I was already taking Intermediate Coding (I even knew three different coding languages) and Basic Engineering Classes. In my district there is a special high school dedicated to STEM. They even offered college level classes for credits at a reduced cost! I wanted to take Organic Chemistry and AP Chemistry in high school too, but they didn’t fit into my schedule (I wasn’t going to miss out on AP Physics I and II). I pretty much finished all my high school requirements by senior year, so instead I took college classes online, since our school gave you a free period to work on the material for those classes. Plus with three different colleges offering classes, there were plenty to pick from. High school flew by and before I knew it, I was paying to keep the computer I had used for all four years and graduating with 12 undergraduate credits before I even stepped onto a college campus!
I thought college was going to be fun, instead I think it was a mistake. I was always fascinated with computers (probably because we never had one at home) which is why I picked that as my major, however I just dropped my Computer Science 101 course and I might change my major too. I thought I was prepared, but I guess not. By day two of the class, I had no idea what was going on, nor did I know what they were saying (it felt like they were speaking another language). My lab partner wasn’t even using the computer the college gave us, he was using the computer his high school gave him, and my school didn’t do that. I’m not worried about him though, he will be better off without me.
In middle school, I got to take a typing class once a week for half the year, as part of our related arts classes in 6th grade. It was the first time I got to use a computer. Unfortunately, there were budget cuts and she was furloughed (which I guess means fired, because we didn’t get to take any computer classes again until 9th grade). I occasionally went to the computer lab when the teachers took our classes to type papers, but it wasn’t often. I do remember building a bridge in class and a robot in our after school program the one year, which was cool. The teacher even explained that coding could be used to tell fancier robots what to do (our robots just ran on batteries). High school was better, there weren’t any robotics classes, but my science teacher used Code.org in her class on occasion, and I finally got take a Python coding class sophomore year (it even counted as a math class)! Then again, there weren’t enough students interested in the class, so it didn’t run my junior or senior year. Still, many kids didn’t even take the Python class but I did, so why wasn’t I ready for my college computer science class?
Pennsylvania Teachers Advisory Committee