You can see it on the faces of Bellevue grade schoolers: It’s in the furrowed look of concentration, the frustrated hand toss and puzzled ‘What??’, and it’s the side to side bob of a joyful victory dance.
This is learning to code.
“You’re not just trying to go somewhere, you get to make things,” Sherwood fourth grader London Dixon said about what she likes about Hour of Code.
Students at all Bellevue School District elementary schools participated in Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week Dec. 7-11.
“What’s exciting about Hour of Code is that it’s this global movement,” Abigail Ellingson, who teaches fifth grade at Sherwood Forest, said. “It has that sense of unity and the kids can see that what we’re doing here in the classroom applies to the whole world.”
And coding doesn’t stop with one hour. STEM and computer science in Bellevue extend throughout the year.
In 2013 Bellevue Schools Foundation made the integration of STEM in district elementary schools possible, providing funding for the STEM P-5 Initiative. As of this year all BSD elementary schools are participating STEM schools, offering STEM instruction in primary grade classrooms as well as other enrichment experiences for students.
Elsewhere in the district, students in early learning programs and in some secondary grades participated in Hour of Code.
Elementary classrooms use code.org as well as other coding courses and students are gaining experience with the engineering design model, robotics, and learning skills like creative problem solving and collaboration, among others.
“I think one of the biggest things I’m seeing in my kids is their ability to do problem solving,” said Sherwood fourth grade teacher Stephen Veit. “The kids are really getting good at seeing problems from different perspectives and what other kids are thinking.”
At Sherwood Forest this year students get to practice coding weekly and participate in unplugged lessons, where they learn more about concepts that are computer science fundamentals.
“Unplugged lessons get kids in the mindset of how to code and help them frame their learning in a different way,” Veit said.
It all adds up to lots of “lightbulb moments” according to Sherwood’s Technology Specialist, Jessica Brown.
During Computer Science Education Week parents and community members volunteered in classrooms to help with coding and unplugged lessons.
“It’s a really great home-school connection,” Ellingson said. “It’s a great way to connect kids with the world outside of school.”
Ellingson said that she hopes building STEM into the curriculum and participating in Hour of Code shows her students the possibilities of computer science and engineering.
“I hope that the kids take away that pursuing computer science is worthwhile and anyone is capable of doing it.”
Sherwood Forest fifth grader Addy Wallin encourages everyone to learn about coding.
“Just try it!” Wallin said. “I dare you!”