Local Sixth-graders Learn To Code

Posted on May 30, 2014 by  
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Kindergartners give the computer game Maze a try at the Los Altos School District CSTEM Showcase earlier this month as co-creator Sabina Davis looks on

More than 500 sixth-graders from the seven Los Altos School District elementary schools participated in the second Los Altos School District CSTEM Showcase May 1.

Students presented computer games and interactive devices they developed with programs like Arduino, JavaScript and Processing on Khan Academy, MIT’s Scratch and LEGO’s WeDo.

Using coding skills learned in CSTEM classes, student teams exhibited their creative endeavors. CSTEM, a cross-curriculum program, integrates computer science, science, technology, engineering and math.

In the spirit of hands-on learning, community members and fellow students gathered to interact with the students’ programs. Dozens of featured projects, projected on a large screen, received special recognition. Each represented one of the three Cs of CSTEM: creativity, collaboration and computer science. Students described their projects’ formation and development to the large audience.

“How impressed I am with our students and their ability to take knowledge and apply it in an incredible variety of ways,” said Superintendent Jeff Baier.

Alyssa Gallagher, the district’s director of strategic initiatives and community partnerships, said the program is unique in that includes every child.

Gallagher said one of her favorite conversations from the event was with a student enrolled in a special day class who showed her a game the student created during CSTEM time.“They are all being taught how to code and to apply these skills to an area of interest through their choice of project,” she said.

“I had several conversations with parents sharing examples of students learning perseverance, tenacity and willingness to take more learning risks through the CSTEM projects,” she said. “Coding may be the targeted skill, but through Sheena’s instruction, students are learning many more life skills.”

The CSTEM curriculum includes a study of computer hardware and software and its use in multiple areas. Students create art and animations through code as well as design and build computer games and explore physical computing and robotics. Teamwork is a focus, and students use tools including Edmodo and Google sites/docs to share and collaborate online.

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