by Roxana Llano and Tomas Gaeta
Students at DeAnza Academy of Technology and the Arts (DATA) recently had a unique opportunity to collaborate with a nearby elementary school. A group of 35 middle schoolers enrolled in a Computer Science elective were able to teach coding lessons at EP Foster STEM Academy. Students in grades K-5, including students in bilingual classrooms, participated in the ‘Hour of Coding’. Coding is basically what makes it possible for us to create computer software, apps, and websites. In the simplest of terms it is telling a computer what you want it to do.
For younger students, the lessons were conducted using plastic cups – an easy, fun way to grasp the basics of the step-by-step nature of writing computer code. While the younger students were learning the basics, older students were given the opportunity to write code during lessons taught by the DATA students. Lupe Gomez, Bilingual Kindergarten Teacher, stated that “the DATA students did a fantastic job teaching my kindergartners how to code. They were all engaged able to follow the directions. My students would love to invite them back soon!”
In most classrooms a video from Code.org was shown followed by a coding lesson. For many EP Foster students it was their first exposure to coding in the lower grades while the upper grades were able to build upon what they already know about coding and computer science. Additionally, for many DATA students, it was their first teaching experience. Logan Erickson, 7th grader at DATA, said that it was “a really cool experience to teach 3rd graders. The kids were really nice and it was a lot of fun. I wish I had learned coding in 3rd grade”. A 5th grader at E.P. Foster replied, “I’m so glad to have had this experience. I want to be an engineer and I need to learn how to do this kind of stuff!”
The “language” of code is taught in DATA’s Computer Science elective. DATA was the first middle school in the district to offer this elective and its impact has been positive campus wide. Students apply the skills learned in the course during their entire time at DATA in all subjects. Following the hour-long coding lesson, the students from DATA walked the short distance back to campus. As a magnet school with a diverse population from throughout the school district, for many it was their first time walking through the neighborhood and participating in a community event while providing the students at EP Foster a chance to experience the type of exciting, hands-on instruction that is taking place at DATA.
This event represents just one of the many opportunities available at DATA to learn through technology integration, to incorporate visual thinking strategies, and to use project-based learning to foster creativity and critical thinking so that students are ready for the fast-changing, connected future. The school looks forward to collaborating on more fun projects in the future and showcasing their innovative programs to families during the ‘Schools of Choice’ window from January 6th through the 20th. If a family is interested in learning more about DATA they can schedule a tour by calling 641-5165 or by visiting www.dataschool.org.