Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) reworked their entry level courses to encourage more girls to take computer science — and that effort has resulted in the school earning the first College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP (Advanced Placement) Computer Science Principles.
“It’s been something we’ve been working on for a number of years,” said Mickey Engel, PWHS Computer Science Teacher. “We included more web design in the intro courses to draw more girls into computer science. There they find out they’re good at coding and continue with the program.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh High School has four courses in the computer science track: Computer Science 1: Web Design and Animation, Honors Computer Science 2: Web Apps and Games, AP Computer Science and AP Computer Science Principles. The computer science classes offered at PWHS are Dual Enrollment, which means that a student who takes all four classes can graduate from PWHS with 15 college credits from Montgomery County Community College.
“I like that computer science always provides me with a new challenge, like it’s not going in and doing the same thing every day,” said PWHS Junior Anastasia Cwietniewicz who plans to take the final course of the four next year. “There’s always something new to do and something new to learn; it’s kind of like an an infinitely expanding thing, because we’re on the forefront of this technology.”
Schools receiving the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have either 50% or higher female representation in one of the two AP computer science courses or a percentage of the female computer science examinees meeting or exceeding that of the school’s female population.
“[Plymouth Whitemarsh High School] has produced an environment where everyone is equal, and everyone can sit down and code and collaborate,” said Ashley Ajuz, a PWHS senior who is planning a career in software design. “Not just in computer science, I’ve seen it in other classes like engineering. There are a lot of girls and a lot of interaction. It’s awesome.”
PWHS is one of only 490 schools — out of more than 18,000 secondary schools worldwide that offer AP courses — to earn the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for AP Computer Science Principles.