Meet Irith and Irika! | Juni Student Stories | Juni Learning

POSTED ON AUGUST 19, 2020

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For every one of our students at Juni Learning, there's a unique story behind their passion and creativity for learning. Our Juni Student Stories are meant to highlight these diverse journeys of different students, to both inspire fellow students and share with our Juni community!

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Meet Irith and Irika!

Irith and Irika are Juni student siblings who started out in the AP Computer Science track with Juni Learning, barely knowing how to code.

After completing it, they were invited to do the USA Computing Olympiad track, starting in the Bronze level. After passing the USACO Bronze test, they continued to the Silver level and have attempted the Silver test. They are now in the Web Programming track, currently working on their master project, which is to build a website that teaches others how to code in Java.


What got you interested in programming?

Our first exposure to computer science was in a summer coding camp during middle school and we immediately fell in love because we had the freedom to build anything we wanted.

What do you do in a typical Juni class?

In a general Juni class, we learn new coding concepts or algorithms and work on a small project or continue to work on a larger project.

For example, in the APCS track, we learn different Java topics and practice them by incorporating them into a small project.

In the USACO track, we brainstorm ideas on how to solve a USACO problem, or go over questions we had about that particular problem.

Finally, in the Web Programming track, we learn about different HTML, CSS, or JavaScript topics and work on making our own personalized websites, and it all culminates in creating a master project on any topic you like, which is what we are currently doing.

How is it different from your programming class at school?

With our high school programming class, the curriculum is pretty rigid and topics may not be explained very well.

However, with Juni Learning, the curriculum is molded to your skill level, rather than the other way around — which is beneficial because if there are certain areas that you are struggling with, then you can spend more time in those areas rather than spending little time in areas that you might need more help in and wasting time covering areas that you may already know very well.

Also, all of the instructors at Juni Learning are awesome and dedicated to help you succeed, whereas in school, it is the luck of the draw on what type of teacher you get.

How much homework do you get?

While we were in the APCS track, we would get the multiple choice questions from a certain chapter in the Barron's book to do for homework, which would typically take around 30 minutes to an hour. Each multiple choice set is focused on the specific concept that we learned that day.

While we were in the USACO track, we normally got one USACO problem for homework and it might take you 1-2 hours to attempt to solve it, depending on which level of USACO you are in.

What would you like to study in college, or what field would you like to work in?

Both of us want to study computational biology in college, which means that we want to use our computer science knowledge to solve problems in biology!

What else do you enjoy doing outside of school?

Both of us love to play squash, dance, and go biking!

Additionally, Irith likes to make iOS apps, play Mario Kart, and learn about bioinformatics; Irika likes to sing, write children’s books, and make science videos for kids.

What were some of your first projects?

Our very first project was making the game Rock, Paper, Scissors in Java, which involved making variables, using if statements, and printing out the winner.

How did you progress?

During the APCS track, we learned each concept thoroughly and did the Barron’s book practice problems, and did test prep at the end of the track. We then got invited to do the USACO track, starting at the Bronze level. We learned a couple new concepts that we would need for the Bronze competition and did tons of problems.

After passing the Bronze competition, we moved on to the Silver level, where we learned advanced concepts and algorithms and once again did tons of problems. USACO really enhanced both of our problem-solving skills.

Now, in the Web track, we learned how to code in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, creating super cool websites along the way. We are now learning React so that we can create our master project!

Why did you decide to try web development, and how was it different?

We decided to take a break from USACO and try something completely new. Our instructor suggested that we could do web development, since it is very different from doing USACO problems.

Web development is definitely different from USACO because with USACO, you practice problem-solving and applying what you know to an unfamiliar situation, whereas with web development, you practice design and layout.

In super simple terms, USACO is more technical and web development is more artsy. Both of us enjoyed USACO and web development for the different aspects they had to offer.

When did you compete in your first USACO competition? What was it like?

Our first USACO competition was the December 2018 Bronze test. It was not as stressful as we had thought it was going to be, and it ended up going really well because both of us felt really prepared for it.

Overall, we would highly recommend doing the competitions, even if you aren’t sure if you are ready, just to get a feel for it – you may even get lucky and pass! Plus, doing the tests is also really good practice.

How did you prepare for the AP Computer Science Exam?

We did many practice tests, which we found online on the College Board website and through the Barron’s AP prep book.

Doing practice tests are the best way to prepare for the AP Computer Science Exam because they provide multiple choice and free response problems that are similar to what one will see on the actual AP Computer Science exam.

In addition, make sure you have a solid understanding of each of the concepts that the exam is testing you on.

How long have you worked with Juni Learning?

We started Juni lessons three years ago, and started off with the APCS track. Since then, we have done the USACO track, passing the USACO Bronze test and attempting USACO Silver.

Currently, we are taking a break from USACO and trying out web development, working to make our master project, which is a website that teaches other people how to code in Java!

What do you enjoy about working with Juni Learning?

We both really love our instructor, because she is super fun and explains the material really well. Additionally, we both just really enjoy thinking outside the box and learning to approach different kinds of challenging problems that we have never done before.

We also both really like the flexibility with the Juni Learning curriculum, because if we end up spending a little more time on one topic, it’s really easy to just continue where we left off, not having to worry about a time crunch of any sort.

Finally, we love how the Juni Curriculum allows us to immediately practice what concepts we have learned through making super fun and engaging projects!

What are your future plans or goals?

In the future, both of us want to study computational biology in college and help solve problems in biology using computer science! Irith has released four apps so far on the App Store and hopes to release more soon! He is also taking an online course on bioinformatics and wants to continue with that.

Irika is working on a children’s book series teaching kids about various organ systems. She has published eight children’s books on Amazon so far and hopes to continue this passion.

From your experience, do you have any advice for other students preparing for the AP Computer Science Exam or USACO competitions?

For the AP Computer Science exam, doing practice tests really helps because practice tests are structured exactly like the actual AP test. The practice tests help you get used to the structure of the actual test, additionally helping with time management for the actual test.

Additionally, there are a lot of online resources and test books with lots of practice. For the USACO competitions, don’t stress out and be sure to review all of the algorithms and various topics that are being tested.

So just try your best and have fun! :)


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