Tag Archives: OOP

New AP CS A Labs – Magpie, Elevens, and PictureLab Part 2

The 2014-2015 A+ Computer Science Materials are ready for download.

New Scratch materials are included!  More game projects.

Python materials are now included – slides, examples, worksheets, quizzes, and tests!

Materials for multiple Computer Science courses are fully supported!

Materials for the New AP CS A Labs – Magpie, Elevens, and PictureLab are included!


The following provides more information on the new AP CS A Labs and the A+ support provided for these new Labs.

Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, the GridWorld case study has been eliminated as a requirement for the AP Computer Science A curriculum. To ensure that students spend enough time on hands-on labs, the College Board has added a 20-hour lab requirement for students. To support the implementation of the 20-hour lab requirement, College Board has provided three exemplar labs for teachers to use. These labs will not be directly tested on the AP Computer Science A exam.

To read the official College Board announcement about this lab requirement, follow this link: http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/courses/teachers_corner/221994.html

To access resources for the new labs including student lab guides, follow this link :  http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/courses/teachers_corner/222163.html

To access source code and teacher guides for the new labs, go the AP CS A Course Audit link : http://www.collegeboard.com/html/apcourseaudit/courses/computer_science.html

It is important that you read this information and visit the AP Audit site to attest to your understanding of this requirement to use these labs in your course or submit a new syllabus that clearly indicates that you are allowing at least 20 hours of lab time for your students. You may submit one of the four approved syllabi provided by the College Board, the A+ Computer Science approved syllabus, or your create a syllabus of your own.

The goal of the A+ Computer Science materials for the New Labs is to provide support materials for Magpie, Elevens, and Picture labs and to integrate these materials with the existing A+ Computer Science materials. These new AP CS A labs are not intended to be new teaching units that must be added to your curriculum. Instead they are intended to be labs that you can use to reinforce concepts that you have already taught, much like the extensive set of labs that you find throughout the A+ Computer Science curriculum.

In the new 2014-2015 A+ Computer Science Curriculum, you will find teacher notes for each of the exemplar labs that describe what testable concepts the labs cover and when in the curriculum you might use the lab exercises. You will also find Powerpoint slides and worksheets to support each of the new exemplar labs.


Main topics covered by each of the new AP CS A Labs :

Magpie – Classes, randomness, and Strings – specifically indexOf(), substring(), and lots of Math.random()

Elevens – List of references – specifically using an ArrayList < SomeClass > / List < SomeClass >

Picture Lab – Matrices / Matrices of references – specifically using SomeClass[ ][ ] and focusing on array of arrays


A+ Computer Science Labs that cover the same concepts as the new AP CS A Labs :

Strings and randomness – HexChecker, MorseCode, Rock-Paper-Scissors, and Etch-A-Sketch

Lists of references – WordList, Numbers, Toys, Winter Scene, and BlackJack – 21

Matrices / Matrices of references – Forest, Tic-Tac-Toe, and Code and Ciphers


Free Response Questions that cover similar concepts to the new AP CS A Labs :

Strings and randomness – 14.Q1, 11.Q4, 08.Q2, 08.Q4

Lists of references – 13.Q1, 12.Q1, 11.Q3, 10.Q1, 09.Q4, 08.Q1

Matrices / Matrices of references – 14.Q3, 13.Q4, 12.Q4, 11.Q4


AP CS A Summer Institutes 2014

My Houston AP SI is in the books.  I had a very large and lively crowd.  The winner of the furthest travel was Daily who came all of the way from Nigeria.

We spent lots of time on arrays, arrays of references, lists, lists of references, matrices, matrices of references, interfaces, abstract classes, recursion, and the new AP CS A Labs.

Magpie, Elevens, and PictureLab are new and need to be examined before the 2014-2015 school year kicks off.  The updated A+ Computer Science Curriculum supports the new AP CS A Lab and it is ready for download.

We also did an extensive study of free response questions and went through many past year’s questions.  This is a good practice at workshops and in class.

Denver is up next in just over a week.  Hope to see you there.

2014 AP CS A Exam Free Response Solutions

Well, my predictions for the 2014 AP CS A Free Response were close this year as usual.

There was a matrix of classes this year.  It took me 2 years to get this one right.

There were 2 class questions this year and not just one.  I was 1/2 right on that.
You had to extend a Rock which is cool.  I have been having my students extend Actor every year since GridWorld was introduced which is basically the same thing as a Rock.

There was an ArrayList of classes, but the class was a String.  I was kind right on that one.
The ArrayList<String> question was much like a codingbat problem so that was cool.

Circa 2006, there was an interface implementation question this year.  I like the question, but would like it better if the constructor was 3 MenuItems rather than being so specific.  Anyway.

I have posted slides with my solutions and a java student project that has shells and no solutions.  This project will allow students to punch in their code and see if works.

There are review slides for the AP Computer Science A exam for years 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.  There are student java projects for 2013 and 2014.

Have a great summer and check out my workshop offerings if you are free this summer.  My workshop is full in Houston with a ton on the waiting list, but my Denver workshop has been expanded and there are still a couple spots left.     http://www.apluscompsci.com/workshops.htm

I also do local workshops for schools and school districts.  If you need specialized local training, email me and we can discuss specifics.

CMU kicks OOP to the curb in intro CS

CMU says adios to OOP in intro CS

OOP was all the rage a few years ago, but appears to be losing some of its luster.  CMU has gone and done what lots of folks have been discussing on blogs and lists for some time.  “Objects never or hardly never” was a topic on Mark Guzdial’s blog not too long ago.
It is extremely important that intro students can develop logical solutions / algorithms to given problems no matter the paradigm.  This is way important to me than knowing where to put lots of keywords and punctuation marks.  I want my students to be prepared to effectively develop solutions to problems in any environment.  The more tools you have in your tool belt the better a Batman you will be – or something like that – you need to be flexible and adaptable and a fancy tool belt should help – at least in my mind it makes sense.  I think Batman is cool and he has a cool tool belt.  Who doesn’t like Batman?  🙂