Ogden Elementary Schools Teach Coding, Plan To Expand Program

Oct 16, 2018, 6:43 PM | Updated: Oct 22, 2018, 8:19 am

OGDEN, Utah – Jessica Robbins is well-versed in computer code. The site tech instructor at Hillcrest Elementary School went to college for gaming and animation. Teaching those coding skills to fifth graders however, was likely not something she had imagined.

“Seeing it laid out in such an easy, understandable way is amazing,” Robbins said. “It’s exciting seeing them get creative. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, because there’s so much that you can do.”

Robbins is one of several site techs who now teach computer code to elementary school kids, from kindergarten to sixth grade. Fifth grader Beth Gonzalez says learning those skills has been fun.

“I like it because you interact with technology,” Gonzalez said. “We learn how to make games and how to create things.”

Tuesday afternoon, the fifth graders were learning how to work together and debug each others’ programs.

“It’s just amazing how fast they pick up on the ideas,” Robbins said. “I wish I would have had this in school.”

The Ogden School District received a $125,000 grant through the Utah STEM Action Center. The funding was provided through the passage of Senate Bill 190, in 2017. While the focus now is on elementary school kids, the school district would like to offer coding courses to all grades in the district. The program started new in several elementary schools there this fall.

“It’s something very different than they’ve ever done before,” Hillcrest Elementary principal, Jenny DeCorso said. “They’ve never experienced coding this way. That was a new term for the kids when we started at the beginning of the school year.”

A program administrator also works to make sure the coding program is relevant, working with industry companies to see what areas they’d like to see future employees have a better foundation in.

“I would have definitely have had an easier time in college, doing the coding,” Robbins said.

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Ogden Elementary Schools Teach Coding, Plan To Expand Program