Coding Update – An Interview with Math Chair Josh Paris
Last summer, the BHS Innovation Fund provided a grant to enable coding to become integrated into the 9th grade math and science curriculum. Josh Paris (JP) is the Math Department Chair who, along with Ed Wiser, Chair of the Science Department, and Britt Stevens, Chair of Career and Technology, supervised the initiative. Mr. Paris discusses what excites him about the Coding initiative and its impact on students:
Q: How did the Innovation Fund enable you to integrate Coding into the 9th grade curriculum?
JP: We have had two coding elective courses called Python and SNAP at BHS for several years but this is the first time it is being integrated into the 9th grade curriculum. The grant began last summer (2020) and it was a collaboration between the math, science, career and tech education departments. Teachers usually teach four courses but the grant gave course releases to Adam Fried and Christine Shen (both from the math department) and Tyler Brown (from the science department) to instead teach three classes. This – and the hiring of another teacher – enabled them to spend time collaborating and modifying the curriculum so that they could implement coding into the 9th grade math and science curriculum.
Q: Are you intending to integrate coding into the curriculum of the upper grades at some point?
JP: Yes, we started with 9th grade and then will move to the older grades in the following years, one year at a time.
Q: Why is it important to have coding as part of the curriculum?
JP: It is very important to have coding be accessible to everyone for so many reasons; not only is it the way of the future and opens a lot of career doors but it also helps enhance math deduction and reasoning skills. For instance, the same logic is applied in both coding and formal proof in geometry. Furthermore, giving all students access to coding is important for equity reasons since it has historically been a profession dominated by white males. By having equal access to coding beginning in 9th grade we are hoping that will change.
Q: Since coding is integrated into the math and science curriculum does it mean you need to be strong in those subjects to be good at coding?
JP: Motivation and hard work – like many things in life – are the keys to success with coding. Coding is something that draws upon and enhances many life skills and cuts through many disciplines, for that reason, students often find something about coding that “speaks” and appeals to them!
Read a full description of the grant here