Family Coding Night highlights new tech in education

Event offers hands-on look into cutting-edge tools to teach skills

Posted 12/11/18

At first glance, it looked like a bunch of kids playing with toys. Elementary-aged students fiddled with yellow plastic bees, tapped on tablets that controlled robots and designed simple applications …

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Family Coding Night highlights new tech in education

Event offers hands-on look into cutting-edge tools to teach skills

Posted

At first glance, it looked like a bunch of kids playing with toys.

Elementary-aged students fiddled with yellow plastic bees, tapped on tablets that controlled robots and designed simple applications on laptops — like making a cartoon dance or move around.

This was the sight at the Chaparral Family Coding Night at Sierra Middle School Dec. 6. The event allowed students to test out new educational devices and showcase their application across all subjects in school. The “toys” are controlled through computer coding and can be simply adjusted by a student.

It's the second annual event like this put on by the Chaparral feeder system, which includes Pine Lane, Mammoth Heights, Pine Grove, Prairie Crossing Cherokee Trail elementaries, Sierra Middle School and Chaparral High School.

“I have so many parents and families that say 'I don't understand what my kids are doing at school related to computer programming,'” Blair said. “We wanted parents and their children to have opportunities to get exposure to computer science just to wet their pallet to want to learn more.”

Angela and Michael Herrera learned how to control a tiny coding robot, the Ozobot Bit, which can follow a designated path designed using a marker. Morgan Molcsan fiddled with a coding application on a laptop that controlled the size of a cartoon robot by simply changing a number of the coding format.

Ken Molcsan, Morgan's father, is a computer scientist by trade and saw the importance of teaching coding at an early age.

“I think it's important for our kids to be able to learn how to do programming. It's prevalent in everything we do today,” said Molcsan. “In the future, everybody's going to need to learn how to do this stuff, so it's important for kids to learn now.”

This was the third year in a row with a night dedicated to a hands-on coding event for parents to get involved. The night finished off the National Computer Science Education Week for schools worldwide, including several in the Douglas County School District. Dubbed “Hour of Code,” the event hopes to get students familiarized with coding

According to Code.org, the nonprofit behind the annual “Hour of Code” and the host of the event, there are almost 10 times as many computing job openings nationwide as there are students graduating with a degree in computer science.

Douglas County School District Assistant Superintendent Ted Knight said learning to code will be vital for any student as they move forward in education.

“We have plenty of industry partners that want this in the hands of students at an early age so they understand it,” Knight said. “Some of the time there's other subjects specifically integrated in, other times the teacher use it as a vehicle to bring other subjects in, just because you're bringing in student engagement because of some nifty gadget the kids can play with.”

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