In terms of optimizing academic achievement, there has been widespread consensus that students in middle school should develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and processing skills. At the same time, they should work on emotional development to become courageous enough to try new things while tackling all academic challenges. In this vein, the math skills of U.S. students fall behind many of their other academic skills. As a result, educators are constantly searching for ways to heighten their students’ interest in math. They want students to love math. But, how to achieve this is the question.

Surprisingly, programming provides a meaningful context for middle school students to achieve all of the above. Most parents, however, believe that programming is a challenging subject, and that only engineering students should attempt it. And students do not see programming as necessarily related to anything they are doing. Nevertheless, programming develops math, critical thinking, problem-solving, and processing skills. And, because programming is challenging academically, and unforgiving, and students do not see results until they get it right, they must become persistent and determined to get to the bottom of things.

Besides the inherent merits in learning programming, the world that students will enter as adults requires them to possess this skill. As the dawn of the robotics era is just around the corner, students are facing a world where people with some level of programming skills are more likely to succeed.

Selective colleges are increasingly looking for programming skills in incoming students in many pursuits other than technology and engineering. As data and informatics become pillars in academia, students armed with programming skills are likely to join more competitive programs and research and become successful. Students who are aiming high in their college applications should, therefore, consider picking up programming skills early on, especially since basic programming skills are easy to develop when students are young. There are many tools and platforms to help younger students to develop programming skills. There are also various types of training and courses to help those who are more serious. And programming can be something fun to do. There are always programming/engineering courses that have the non-engineering students in mind. Who says that programming is just for geeks?

At LCP, engineering-minded students have AP Computer Science A at the top of their list. Non-engineering students, however, may make AP Computer Science Principles their goal. Before reaching that level, middle school students may choose Java Readiness, Introduction to Java Programming, Exploring Computer Science, Robotics, and other related courses. These are appropriate contexts for developing programming and engineering skills. Talk to a counselor at (408) 865-0366 or Start programming today!

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