Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the name of the national coding nonprofit is Code.org.
While video and computer games capture of the interest of many young kids, the designing process that goes into them is something Angleton ISD Assistant Superintendent Adam Stephens wants to emphasize as a part of a growing computer science and engineering world.
During Computer Science Education Week, fifth-grade students at Westside Elementary took an hour of class time to meet with local dignitaries, including County Judge Matt Sebesta, Superintendent Phil Edwards and Angleton Mayor Jason Perez, to take part in coding activities.
“In order to get more students and community members excited about computer science, the national nonprofit Code.org is encouraging students to complete one hour of coding,” Stephens said. “It’s done through the lens of cute games, kind of fun, interactive activities, and it uses block-based coding, which is entry-level coding.”
The students each partnered with a community member and chose an activity to code during the event. With dancing and popular Disney-themed games, students were able to work their way through increasingly challenging levels of code.
“Once you get the hang of it, it’s kind of easy,” Perez said. He was assisted by fifth-grader Keira Cooke. The two created an avatar that performed a sequence of fun dance moves.
“Right now in Texas, we know there are 30,000 vacant computer science jobs, so whatever we can do to get kids interested and kind of prepare them for that path is our goal,” Stephens said.
All 7,000 Angleton ISD students are being asked to complete the hour of code as a part of the education week, Stephens said.
Those students who go online and complete a 10-part coding process through a district initiative called Code Front will be eligible to participate in a pizza party in January, Stephens said.
“For my mindset, it just shows them they can do more and achieve more,” Robotics Club director Katie Medina said. “This, for them, looks like a game, but in real life they can go farther and achieve careers in STEM.”
Starting early and incorporating small amounts of coding early on is beneficial to the leaning process, Medina said.
“It lets me be creative, and it’s mainly just fun,” fifth-grade student Andrew Aasletten said.
Aasletten and the county judge worked on code for a dancing game that was a few minutes long.
“This is something anyone in the world can do,” Stephens said. “We want to instill in our kids that learning is messy. It’s fun and it’s hard and you’re gonna make mistakes, and so, you know, this is something a lot of adults haven’t tried. And it’s not so much just about computer science but computational thinking.”