Through school partnerships with Code.org students have access to essential lifelong computer science in more classrooms from kindergarten through 12th grade. In Maryland, partnerships are increasing across the state.
Code.org is a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting computer science education around the nation.
Currently the program has partnerships in nine school districts across the country including partnerships in Montgomery County public schools and now Charles County schools.
Pat Yongpradit, Code.org’s education director, spoke during an announcement ceremony Thursday morning at Westlake High School about the organization and what the partnership can do for Charles County teachers and students.
Code.org will provide professional development resources, including stipends for teachers, and will provide materials so that students will have opportunities “to learn what computer science is all about and what it could mean for [students] in whatever interests [they] have,” Yongpradit said.
He said the partnership is not about turning students into programmers but providing students an opportunity to learn “a very foundational skill.” He said computer science helps in everyday life, even with decision making. Using the example of a girl trying to decide what dress to purchase for prom, he said, “There is an algorithm for that.”
The partnership will expand computer science class offerings and upgrade curriculum, school officials said.
Current high school seniors said the opportunities are great for students coming up in the school system.
“Students in elementary and middle school are a lot more lucky than I am,” Teriencio Solano, 17, a Westlake senior, said about younger students getting an opportunity to learn computer science skills.
“Every student in Charles County public schools will be exposed to the skills that computer science has to offer. Every student will learn how to think critically, how to analyze a problem and how to come up with a solution. Instead of being intimidated by computer science, Charles County public schools students will learn about how much fun computer science can be,” Superintendent Kimberly A. Hill said.
Prior to the announcement ceremony, Westlake students Jazmine Johnson, 17, and Kevon Wilbon, 17, showed local officials and other guests some of the coding skills they are learning in their computer science class.
Wilbon said computer science is good for people who like electronics, and Johnson said the programs coming to the school system through the partnership will be good for all those who plan to get into a profession that deals with computer science, as it would give them a head start.
Diane O’Grady-Cundiff, Westlake computer science and computer engineering teacher, was one of many Charles County teachers instrumental in getting the partnership, officials said.
“This is my passion, getting kids to create things with technology,” O’Grady-Cundiff said.
Four elementary students who participated in the Hour of Code presented by Code.org earlier this year helped two local officials, county Sheriff Rex Coffey (D) and Charles County commissioners’ Vice President Reuben B. Collins II (D) navigate through a code program during the ceremony Thursday. Coffey learned how to use code to program each move an Angry Bird makes, and Collins programmed a cartoon character using the Scratch program.
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