Digital Technologies Curriculum

Algorithmics (HESS) at Box Hill High School

Box Hill High

Choosing to offer Algorithmics (HESS) at Year 12 level in its first year of accreditation was a natural choice for Box Hill High School. As a school that is determined to cater to a diverse range of learners, including a large cohort gifted learners, the opportunity to offer students an applied problem solving subject at an advanced level was very exciting for the school. Whilst ostensibly serving as an introduction to Computer Science at a tertiary standard, many of the students who have enrolled over the first two years are former SEAL students (Select Entry Accelerated Learning) School who were enticed by the chance to expand their strong mathematical and scientific skills into a more applied context.

Unlike more established VCE Mathematics or Science subjects where students are often building on years of previous incremental progress, many of the concepts introduced in Algorithmics (HESS) are seen for the very first time, and so initially were quite confronting for some students. However, the students were able to adopt a range of strategies to overcome this initial difficulty. These strategies included implementing algorithms in a programming environment to test how they work, returning to new concepts intermittently in order to be able to encounter them multiple times in a space of a few weeks and working collaboratively to develop improved understanding.

Ultimately, having come to terms with some of the early difficulties in the subject, the majority of students came to really enjoy the subject, and particularly the many interesting applications that their newfound skills could be applied to. For instance, one student was amazed that “you can apply this knowledge in some of the most bizarre settings, such as my English Language class, which seemed to, at first glance, have no relation to computer science or mathematics.” Other students were able to create a model resembling Netflix for board games. As a result of these positive experiences, well over half of the Year 12 students in the original Algorithmics (HESS) class pursued a Computer Science or Science degree the following year.

Entering an increasingly digital age, the flexible skills learnt by students studying Algorithmics (HESS) will undoubtedly provide them with a competitive advantage in whatever career pathway they decide on.

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