Introduction to IOAPA Computer Science courses

Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) offers three online computer science (CS) courses for Iowa students who don’t have access to these courses within their school district. These courses are offered through the curriculum provider Project STEM. Current computer science course offerings include:

High School

  • AP Computer Science A (Java): This course introduces students to the Java programming language while emphasizing universal language techniques like syntax, semantics, and readability. This allows the student to understand and master important concepts that will apply to programming problems in many additional languages.
  • AP Computer Science Principles: This is an introductory college-level computing curriculum that introduces students to the breadth of the field of computer science. The major areas of study in the curriculum are organized around big ideas that encompass ideas foundational to studying computer science.

Middle School

  • Computer Science Python Fundamentals: An introductory course for students brand new to programming that teaches the foundations of computer science. This course prepares students for AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles, as well as helps build problem-solving skills.

More information about these courses can be found in our course catalog. Additionally, Fall 2023 enrollment for these courses is now open!

Mentors do not need to have any previous CS teaching experience or knowledge to facilitate a course within Project STEM. The curriculum and lessons for these courses are already prepared. However, mentoring these courses differs from others offered by IOAPA in that there is no teacher provided by Project STEM to facilitate the course. This makes the role of mentors slightly different for Project STEM courses. The majority of assignments are assigned grades automatically as your students submit them. This is particularly true in the CS Python Fundamentals and AP Computer Science A courses.

The AP Computer Science Principles course requires the most mentor involvement, as has always been the case. This course requires students to submit some essay questions that need to be graded by mentors. However, these assignments have a rubric in the Teacher Resource Sidebar, which gives mentors all of the information they will need to accurately grade the essays. Additionally, mentors and students can ask Project STEM’s Teacher Assistant team questions in their forums at any time. While teacher assistants cannot make grading decisions, they can provide guidance and answer specific questions mentors may have about the content.

Additionally, as there are no built-in teachers for Project STEM courses, AP Computer Science mentors will need to be listed as the teacher of record on the AP course audit. However, College Board does not allow the teacher of record and AP coordinator to be the same person. So, although our policies do not require that the two roles be filled by separate people, this will be necessary for the two Project STEM AP courses. Therefore, schools where the same person usually fills the AP Coordinator and mentor roles will need to consider alternatives. Step-by-step instructions for completing these course audits can be found at the following links for AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles.

Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) is a partnership between the Belin-Blank Center and the State of Iowa to provide free access to 30 advanced online courses for Iowa students. This program is for Iowa students who would otherwise be unable to find these courses offered in their school district and therefore reduces geographic and resource-related barriers to success. IOAPA classes include Advanced Placement® courses for high school students as well as high school-level courses for eligible middle school students. Keep an eye out for our next blog post, which will talk more about Project STEM resources available to students and mentors.

As always, please feel free to reach out to us at with any questions.

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