Motivational Talk

Why Should everybody learn how to program?

Posted by M Vargas on October 06, 2017

After obtaining the approval to teach CS50 AP, I decided to make a presentation to motivate students to apply for this course. Even though I wanted to teach to everybody who was eager to learn coding, I was aware that I was doing this mostly by myself, and I was also keeping in mind that the main goal was to demonstrate the importance of learning coding skills, so I decided to be very selective with the students taking the beta version of course. I established that I was going to have just 8 seats available for the course because that was a number of people I could handle by myself, and I also wanted these students to be TAs (teaching assistants) in the next version of the course.

Initially, I wanted to teach CS50 as it is taught in Harvard University, but because the people who were taking the course were high school students I changed the main programming language from C to Python. I also added some useful resources from other programming courses, tutorials, and books that I knew are good for learning not only coding but also Python. However, I was going to teach programming in a fun way, review assignments, provide feedback on how well the students were doing in the course, and also I was going to make some sessions in which they could practice programming and the concepts reviewed in the classes. In addition, I had in mind to have some lunches or meals to share experiences about the course and know better the students. All of these are ideas taken from CS50.

Therefore, I asked the vice principal Silvia Moya to gather the students in 10th and 11th grade, I excluded students from 12th grade (seniors) because they were going to be busy studying for an exam that allows them to apply to public universities, that have shown good problem solving skills. Teacher Silvia did an outstanding job asking math and physics teachers about the students that satisfy this condition, and she also set up responsibly everything for the talk that was given on October 6th, 2017. These students did not know either the reason why they were called to attend a talk, nor the topic of the talk, so all of them were thrilled when I started talking.

Essentially, I explained the reasons why people should learn how to code no matter the major they have decided to study. I also explained them that the main thing about coding was learning a new way of thinking known as computational thinking, i.e., think of a problem in terms of a computer. As a consequence, one can give the problem to a computer, and it can solve the problem very fast. Then, I told them about the CS50 AP Puyo course, and I clearly stated that the final intention is to make this programming course available to everybody in high school, but because it was a beta version, I was going to start just with 8 students who will pledge to be TAs in the next version of the course. Next, I explained them the selection process consisted of a technical tests, evaluating math, reasoning, and creative skills; a personality tests, which is based on Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ typology; and a personal interview, in order to know more about the applicants’ skills.

Finally, I told them that the first phase of the selection process, i.e., the technical test was going to be on October 14th, 2017. Besides, Silvia Moya gave a very motivational speech encouraging students to apply to the selection process of CS50 AP Puyo, and she repeated several times that this was a unique opportunity that has not been offered before. She also told them that I was her student when I was in high school, and she emphasized that I was an outstanding one. The students left the room, but I could clearly see their faces full of enthusiasm.