Tech Talk

Teaching Kids to Code

The Spry Digital team is doing something new this year. We committed to working with the local elementary school near our office, Hodgen Tech. It started out as a school supply drive and quickly led to us sponsoring the fifth-grade class. The public school is focused on giving its students the opportunity to learn about computer coding. Spry Digital is excited about teaching kids to code, and we have discovered so many great ways to do it.

We should encourage all students to learn about computer science and coding because it is a subject that touches all of our lives. The website Code.org reports that 58 percent of all jobs in the STEM field are in computing, but only 8 percent of graduates are in the computer science field. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the projected employment in computerrelated jobs continues to grow. The other factor is that many occupations rely on technology and computer software, requiring employees to make informed decisions in their position. If we expose our children to the concepts of computer programming at a young age, they are more likely to pursue the field in college.

There are many great tools available for free to teach kids to code:
1. Hour of Code: This nonprofit is dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools. They have a detailed curriculum for educators in K-12 along with ways to explore coding.
2. scratch.mit.edu: Created by MIT Media Lab, this free tool teaches kids to think creatively, reason  systematically and work collaboratively, skills everyone can benefit from in life.
3. madewithcode.com: Google took their Blockly tool and focused it into a learning tool for kids. It lets kids explore how to create projects using a drag-anddrop interface that shows coding concepts.
4. Khan Academy: It provides many courses to help kids with math, science, engineering, humanities and computing. They offer one with Pixar that walks you through how to create an animated film.

If you are an educator and don’t have a coding curriculum in place, consider building it into your plans this year. Organizations with tech teams should consider adopting a local elementary school to help mentor in the classroom. Encourage local schools, districts and state officials to support funding a computer science curriculum. Visit  code.org/advocacy/statefacts/MO.pdf to learn more on how you can make a difference. Teaching kids to code will have a big impact on students,  St. Louis and companies across the country.

Sheila Burkett is an information technology expert and CEO of Spry Digital, an interactive design agency delivering smart digital solutions. Follow Spry Digital on Twitter (@sprydigital), Facebook (facebook.com/sprydigital), Instagram (@sprydigital) or LinkedIn (linkedin.com/company/spry-digital-llc).

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