Coder in Residence

Terry Alexander 6288029, Pacific University

The Coder in Residence program was modeled after a more traditional Artist in Residence program. In fact, the original idea came from a parent group who brought in an artist to work with the students each year but who wanted to offer a change. They wanted to highlight the school's new computer lab and emphasize the school's focus on STEM education by bringing coding to the students. Instead of an artist, the school invited me to come to their school and design and teach a program that would provide an introduction to computer science to all classes in the school.

Elementary education in Computer Science presents an opportunity to engage students in the types of critical thinking that it takes to be successful in future technology classes. Most students, even at young ages, have a strong interest in technology. iPads and other devices make it easy for young children to navigate technology very successfully and intuitively. Children often spend a good bit of time at home using devices for learning or entertainment. This program takes advantage of that attraction and curiosity and steers students towards applying it to creating content rather than just consuming content.

The Coder in Residence program has now run at two different schools. Both are large elementary schools with more than eight hundred students. It included all students, kindergarten through fifth grade. Each classroom received a series of three lessons. In kindergarten, students played a coding game where they put their heads together to write a program for a student robot to navigate a course on the carpet. The upper elementary students programmed in Scratch to create individual interactive stories with multiple characters running scripts that allowed the students to plan the timing of sound, movement, and dialog.

Implications from this work include:

  • Finding ways for schools to make partnerships with industry to bring engineering expertise into the classroom.
  • Creating ways to provide early computer science education to students in order to help them navigate their technological world.
  • Giving students an opportunity to do critical thinking in a learning style that is not often exercised in the classroom.

Abstract

The Coder in Residence program is a way to bring early Computer Science education to elementary schools without requiring staff expertise in coding.

 

Coder in Residence

The Coder in Residence program is a way to bring early Computer Science education to elementary schools without requiring staff expertise in coding.