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Coding week opens door to the future

Librarian Margie Wayman at Bryan Middle leads a coding class during “We Love to Code” week.

Librarian Margie Wayman at Bryan Middle leads a coding class during “We Love to Code” week.

We may not realize just how much our lives depend on coding, programming and graphic design, but our world is shaped by technology, right down to how our cars are designed.

Information technology professionals predict a huge shift in how companies conduct business in the future, relying more and more on business in the “cloud.” The result means programmers will be in even higher demand. Some experts are worried about future programming jobs going “off shore” due to the steady decline in U.S. programmers. But a stronger emphasis on technology in our schools could solve the problem.

Recently, the Francis Howell District participated in “We Love to Code!,” a weeklong event encouraging students of all ages to learn to code using Scratch, a visual programing language developed for students as a stepping stone to more advanced programming languages. As a follow-up to the national Hour of Code held in October, Francis Howell has continued to provide coding opportunities for students. Most schools in the district participated in We Love to Code! and the approach was to make it fun and keep it simple.

“We wanted to make it less formal and create a more laid back atmosphere,” explained Librarian Margie Wayman. “This isn’t your typical computer class. It’s student-led. They are collaborating together, using 21st century skills.”

That being said, Bryan Middle students didn’t know what to think about a full week of coding, according to technology information literacy teacher Jamie Chapel.

“At first, when they heard the word ‘coding,’ they were not too thrilled. I think those who had never done it before imagined it would be boring, but when they discovered that they could create and code ‘Minecraft’ and ‘Flappy Birds,’ then they got very excited about it. They also realized quickly that it wasn’t something that was hard to do and from then on, they have been onboard and all-in,” Chapel said.

Sixth-grader Ty Nedungadi said, “I was surprised that it was really simple and easy to learn.” Emmy Chroeder, also a sixth grader, said, “It is so creative! I love how much you can do with it.”

By the end of the week, the classes looked forward to their coding time.

One student had a previous background with coding and even had a plan for the role it would play in his future. Logan Hampton, a sixth-grader at Bryan Middle, said “I think coding prepares me for my future because by my graduation in 2025, programmers will be really needed. I can see myself doing this for a job. It is really fun.”

Technology Partners, an IT staffing and solutions firm based in Chesterfield has had their finger on the pulse of technology for over 20 years. CEO Lisa Nichols shared her insight into why it’s paramount to introduce technology at an early age.

“When you read about the Gates, Jobs and Zuckerbergs of the world – the dreamers and inventors who have shaped where we are with technology – you see a common thread in all of their stories. It all started with a spark in childhood, something that opened their eyes to the possibilities of a new, digital age. That’s why it’s so important to [tap into children’s education] with programs like Code.org and STEM programs in local schools,” Nichols said. “It gives them a chance to dream big dreams, and really see the opportunities that exist – from animating to special effects to finance to anything they can dream up.

“Coding opens up a world of endless possibilities.”

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