We have been offering Computer Science opportunities for more than a decade. In the early years, Comp Sci was limited to Middle School Coding Electives, which focused on Scratch, Karel the Robot, Alice, Greenfoot, and HTML. In 2012, we expanded our program to begin in Second Grade, using online resources and Pro-Bot programmable floor robots. By the time the first Hour of Code event was held in 2013, there were many more offerings tailored for younger students, such as Kodable and other iPad-based apps that taught programming basics. We now offer Computer Science from Kindergarten through Eighth Grade and are in the process of integrating physical computing using ProBots, Makey Makeys, WeDo Robotics, OzoBots, and Arduino.
So why do we teach all students Computer Science? Does everyone need to be a programmer when they grow up? The answer is that Computer Science can apply to every field: our students learn logic, problem-solving, and design skills. They take complex ideas and break them down into smaller parts. They work collaboratively and with persistence in the face of frustration. The creative aspects of coding are also often overlooked: creating interactive stories, animations, games, and websites. Coding, in fact, is all about turning ideas into reality.
“I like the terms ‘hard fun’ or ‘healthy struggle’ to describe some of the learning processes associated with programming,” says Technology Integration Specialist Ellyn Kohrs. “One of my students in the Full Year Programming Exploration recently said, ‘It is very fun and it makes me think hard.'”