Coding Clubs Spark Interest In High Tech Learning

Students Fascinated, Challenged By Computer Coding
Posted on 03/05/2018

It may look like students are playing video games at school, but there is something very important happening in elementary classrooms throughout the Mehlville District.  It’s called Coding, and it has lots of children excited about expanding their computer skills. 

Coding is all about learning the fundamental computer science concepts that form the basis for all computer programming languages.  Students begin with something simple like navigating a path through a maze by mapping out forward, backward, left and right moves.  After students master relatively simple tasks, they move on to more difficult computer programming challenges like making small robots move or actually creating a video game, while also building  teamwork and leadership skills.

Many of the elementary schools have created Coding Clubs and they often involve the school librarians.  “We have three groups per year that meet for 10 sessions each,” explained Trautwein librarian Natalie Oleshchuk.  “Each group has about 15 third, fourth and fifth graders. We focus on building computer programming vocabulary and learn about thinking problems through.  We unfortunately have to turn kids away from this after school club because too many want to participate.”

At Oakville Elementary, students participate in Hour of Code and conduct coding activities in the school’s Makerspace.  The school actually has a competitive robotics team that requires students to code a robot as well. The Oakville elementary team will compete in the First Lego League Robotics St. Louis area wide competition. 

Having grown up with smart phones and computers, this new generation of students is exciting to learn what makes computer games do what they do.   Blades Elementary student Chase Manzella said, “You may think it looks easy, but then when you get into coding it, it takes way more steps then how it seems when you are playing it.  I can’t wait to use my imagination to create new games in the future!”  Classmate Mya Butler added, “I got to make a Frogger game and my own game.  The best part was turning my thoughts into my own game.  I got to choose my characters.

Learning how to write computer code is just one of the goals for these clubs.  Students also have to work together and share ideas in order to be successful.  “I made a lot of friends in Coding Club that I didn’t know before,” said Blades student Ian Tentschert.  “Some people struggled with their game and I was able to help.”

And while coding is a lot of fun, students are already seeing some long term possibilities.  “
Before the club, I didn’t know anything about coding,” said Blades student McKenna Eschbacher.  “Now I want to go further and maybe have a career that involves coding.“  

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