Free curriculum for high school computer science

In partnership with the United States College Board organization, whose mission is to expand access to higher education for every student, Microsoft is proud to announce a free new curriculum resource for high school educators who teach the College Board’s Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles course, known as AP CS Principles.

AP CS Principles is an introductory course designed to attract students of all backgrounds, experience levels, and interests. It covers a wide range of computing topics with a special focus on the impact of technology and computing on students’ lives. The course covers a full academic year and does not require any prerequisites (though Algebra I is recommended). An end-of-course exam may be taken to receive college credit.

Watch the above video to learn more about AP CS Principles. 

The AP CS Principles with Microsoft MakeCode curriculum is free and uses web-based technology and tools that can be accessed across platforms and devices. The curriculum is endorsed and approved by the College Board as aligning with the AP CS Principles curriculum framework and AP CS Principles exam.

Some additional features of the Microsoft MakeCode curriculum include:

  • Game-based learning for increased student engagement using the MakeCode Arcade platform
  • Visual block-based programming environment, with JavaScript and Python options for more advanced students
  • Creativity and self-expression encouraged through the creation of custom game assets, characters, and storylines
  • Easy ability to share games and projects with friends and family
  • Focus on design thinking process for student projects
  • Optional service learning module and physical computing lesson options with micro:bit
  • Educator professional development available

Microsoft MakeCode Arcade supports block-based programming and text-based programming with JavaScript and Python.

The curriculum was written and tested in the classroom by Kelli Etheredge, an AP CS Principles teacher herself. It is designed for teachers new to computer science—concepts are explained in plain language, daily materials and talking points with all solutions included.

In addition, the curriculum was written to be culturally relevant to a wide variety of students with diverse backgrounds and experience levels. All computing terms are explained using language and analogies that students understand, most projects encourage student choice in the topic to ensure that the learning aligns to their interests, and no prior knowledge or computing experience is assumed in the course design and pacing. 

And best of all, it’s free for anyone to use!  

Learn more about the AP Computer Science Principles with Microsoft MakeCode curriculum with these resources: