Harker junior Margaret Krackeler signed up for a summer course to get it out of the way and discovered she liked it.
“The teachers are really fun and I’m there with my friends,” she said during the final week. As a bonus, she will enter AP Biology in the fall, skipping the otherwise-required year of Honors Biology.
Summer Institute Principal Chris Florio says that most students enroll as a result of academic planning: either to knock off a required course or to get ahead in a subject area of interest. Many classes are in core subjects, but enrichment courses are also offered in art, forensics and even driver’s education.
Honors Geometry teacher Misael Fisico revealed how he captures students’ attention as they face the prospect of four-plus hours of geometry daily. “I know my students are into computers,” he says, “so there are always computer activities in my class, especially for the first two weeks. Then, I let them do the thinking once I’ve bombarded them with the fun stuff!”
Computer science teacher Susan King noted that even though many students take programming to complete academic requirements, “it isn’t all that rare for kids to find out they like it and go on to take the AP course as a result.” Like Fisico, King works hard to make her instruction and classwork relevant and fun.
“I try not to be the sage on the stage,” she says, “but to have the kids be very active–not only programming on their computers, but also writing on the white boards and working in teams of two.”
It’s not all fun and games, for sure, but the lighter moments help: King and her teaching assistant, Partha Vora, a junior at Harker this fall, put on a version of “The Dating Game” in the Advanced Programming class to illustrate the operation of data structures.
Data structures can represent many, many data points, explains King, “or just three pieces of information, like Bachelors One, Two and Three.” In the game, “the bachelorette could question the bachelors but she had to use the correct index,” she says. “If she rejected one, she removed that bachelor from the database, using all the appropriate concepts.”
Junior Prag Batra got to the crux of the matter: “It’s kind of frustrating when it’s not working, and you have to spend all this time debugging. But thinking of the idea and trying to come up with the logic is kind of fun,” he says.