Code.org Targets Middle Schools for Computer Science

The Seattle-based organization is known for training teachers to teach computer science courses, and provides the lesson plans and software free of charge.

by Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times / June 27, 2017 0
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(TNS) -- Seattle nonprofit Code.org is bringing computer science education to 800 more classrooms – and this time, it’s geared toward middle schoolers.

 

The Seattle organization, founded in 2012 by entrepreneurs Ali and Hadi Partovi, trains teachers to teach computer science courses, and provides the lesson plans and software free of charge.

Code.org is best known for its “Hour of Code” campaign, which encourages kids to spend one hour learning to code with online tutorials featuring popular characters such as those from Frozen and Star Wars. Tens of millions of people have participated in the Hour of Code, according to the nonprofit.

 

Its newest course, called CS Discoveries, is tailored for students in seventh, eighth and ninth grade, and includes a physical component as well as computer coding. Using Arduino boards — electronic circuit boards that utilize open-source software — students learn how code can interact with physical components. For example, students could write a line of code, and watch a light on the board light up. Or they could flip a switch on the board, and see their code change.

CS Discoveries is the third major course from Code.org, which started with lessons for elementary school students, and last year launched a course for high school.

Many middle schools are still teaching classes on how to type and browse the web – things most students already know how to do by age 12, said Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi.

“We realized that middle schools in the country increasingly want to teach computer science and replace outdated tech-ed courses,” he said.

The course will be implemented in about 30 schools districts across Washington state this year.

Code.org trains teachers and is providing Arduino boards to classrooms either for free or at a 70 percent discounted rate. The nonprofit focuses on teaching computer science to girls, minorities and low-income students – populations typically under-represented in the tech industry.

Code.org has been endorsed by a large number of tech leaders, with donors including Microsoft, Facebook, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

©2017 The Seattle Times Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.