Kindergarten Coders Participate in Computer Science

The youngsters took the first step in the Hour of Code computer science initiative that local school districts took part in last week.

by Matt Thompson, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio / December 15, 2015 0

(TNS) -- GENOA — Kindergarten students at Genoa Elementary School worked on computer coding and algorithms in class.

OK, to them it was simpler than that. They aligned arrows to control where a purple dinosaur went in a computer program. But it’s the first step in the Hour of Code computer science initiative that local school districts took part in last week. President Obama, Bill Gates, and other big names have helped promote this global movement.

It’s about teaching children computer science and showing them the opportunities it presents. In Genoa, 625 elementary students learned coding. Most Toledo-area schools had similar programming.

“We’re teaching them how to make things with computers,” said Emily Pickerel, technology special teacher at Genoa. “It’s an initiative to teach students engineering skills, creation skills. When they graduate, so many jobs in the future will require these skills.”

The tutorials for younger students included moving a dinosaur in the computer programming system. Fifth graders were able to pick from popular themes such as Frozen, Angry Birds, Minecraft, and Star Wars. Most in Genoa went with Minecraft.

Students had to drag commands for their person to achieve like walking, turning, picking up a block, and dropping it.

“You could get a job with this and find out new things no one has done before,” fifth-grader Olivia Meinke said. “Instead of buying games, you can make your own.”

Jazmine Hoffman was trying to move a R2-D2 Star Wars character to different Jedis as fast as she could.

She loved the computer science learning, and she believes she can learn how to make games or movies herself with coding.

Mrs. Pickerel said this education is important for students because current computer standards are from 2003 and include how to use Microsoft Office and typing. She said new standards coming out next year will be focused on design, science, technology, engineering, and mechanical basics.

At Gateway Middle School in Maumee, it got a bit more complex. Hart, a marketing and communications agency, came in with two coding experts to work with students. They learned the basics and then how to possibly code websites and mobile apps. Students learned how to type out computer coding too.

“All of them love games so it’s super motivating for them,” Gateway computer literacy teacher Amy Stough said. “You don’t start with creating a website. Let’s code a game first. Use gaming as a part of education, and they love it. It leads to the next level of understanding so they can move on to do something more tech-driven in the future.”

©2015 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.