A pilot program which is the result of a unique partnership helps teach coding to sixth graders and learn the basics of computer programing, getting a boost in 21st century skills.
At William Paca School the opportunity has been well received by parents, teachers, and students. Many of the children would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn the skills required for writing code and programming.
“I think it’s awesome. You never know what a child will be good at until you give them the opportunity to experience it,” said Tiaisha McCreary of Landover, parent of one of the participating sixth-graders. McCreary said the program could open new doors for her son, Tyler McCreary, 11. “He may enjoy the technical aspect and want to become a web designer.”
The program at William Paca is a partnership between the Potomac-based nonprofit Potomac Code Camp and Prince George’s County’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative, or TNI, which provides focused county services to areas in the county that face significant economic and other challenges.
William Paca was selected because it falls within a high-poverty area, where 81 percent of the students receive free and reduced meals, Principal Dorothy Clowers said.
“A lot of our students can’t afford to go away to summer camps, so this is an opportunity for the camp to come to them,” she said.
During the four-week program, which ends May 16, an instructor from Potomac Code Camp holds class with 16 sixth grade students from Pauline Brown’s math class, teaching students basic programming through the free Scratch application, to create introductory videos and games.
Brown said the program, which takes place during part of the students’ math class, fits with the sixth-grade math curriculum.
“There is integration with math, because inside the scripts, they’re working with coordinates, graphing equations, which lines up with the Common Core curriculum,” Brown said.