Education

Bellefonte area kindergarteners get lesson in computer coding

Cheryl DeCusati’s kindergarten class at Marion-Walker Elementary School learned how to computer code Wednesday using a game. During Computer Science Education Week, every kindergarten to fifth-grade student in the Bellefonte Area School district learned how to code during an national initiative called Hour of Coding.
Cheryl DeCusati’s kindergarten class at Marion-Walker Elementary School learned how to computer code Wednesday using a game. During Computer Science Education Week, every kindergarten to fifth-grade student in the Bellefonte Area School district learned how to code during an national initiative called Hour of Coding. bmilazzo@centredaily.com

Computers are used every school day in Cheryl DeCusati’s kindergarten class at Marion-Walker Elementary School.

The use of technology is integrated into curriculum that DeCusati said “enhances learning.”

But on Wednesday afternoon, her 19 students grabbed their assigned Chromebooks and participated in a class activity that was a little different than the norm.

Elementary school students within the Bellefonte Area School District were part of Hour of Code, a global initiative that gives students the opportunity to learn computer coding.

Computer coding, or programming, is a way to take an idea and make it into a usable computer program.

District instructional technology specialist Arlin Roth said every kindergarten to fifth-grade student in the district had the chance to learn computer coding with help from information technology teacher Julie Henry.

And it coincided with Computer Science Education Week.

“We heard about the program a couple years ago, and last year decided we would give it a shot,” Roth said. “Students learn problem-solving skills, logic and creativity.”

Students at Bellefonte Area middle and high schools learn coding through science, technology, engineering and math classes, and learn to type their own JavaScript.

To help younger students learn to code, the instruction came in the form of games.

The kindergarteners Wednesday played a coding game called Monster Quest.

The objective was for students to create a monster that walks through a maze. The graphic’s motion was only allowed to move through coding.

Students made computer codes through links in the game that required them to put pieces together like a puzzle that allowed the monster to walk and jump through the maze when necessary.

Kindergartener Sloan Moore said coding was one of her favorite parts of using the computers.

“Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s hard when you have to move the thing (monster),” Sloan said. “You can put the pieces together and if you get it right, the monster moves, and if you get it wrong, the game makes you do it all over again.”

Roth said the district will continue the program into the New Year. He said the goal is to get Chromebooks for every student in the district.

In the high school, there is about one Chromebook per every two students.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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