By Amanda Moses
Learning computer science seems like a daunting task that could easily befuddle any adult, but at the Spring Creek After School Program elementary school students are learning all about computer coding through their online sessions.
Girls Who Code is a creative and fun class that focuses on empowering young females within one of the most highly sought-after fields. Every Friday at 4pm, Randi Ray. the Assistant Site Supervisor for the Spring Creek After School Program teaches her students the basics of coding.
“I am honored to facilitate Girls Who Code within our program 3rd to 5th-grade girls. Girls Who Code Club creates an environment of sisterhood and creativity while learning how to code. This club is a great opportunity because the girls are able to explore skills and careers in technology and coding. The Girls and I super excited about this club and on Fridays we can’t wait to meet with each other and engage in icebreakers and coding challenges,” Ray said.
On March 5th, Ray’s started with an exercise, which could be done standing or sitting, to boost everyone’s energy, since many of the students have already been in front of the computer all day for virtual learning. She told the girls to whisper while counting to nine, and then as they got up to ten, she asked them shout out ten. The children laughed and danced around while participating in this high-energy activity.
Once the students were prepared, Ray played a short video, which served as an icebreaker to the lesson. This visual aid depicted a reading of the Young Readers series, Black Girl Magic. In this story, a little girl is bullied regarding her appearance, but she later learns that what is on the inside is what matters the most.
The next half of the class focused directly on the program’s namesake—coding. Ray explained the four vocabulary words that the students should remember: code, input, output, and process.
“I want to learn how to make video games using coding,” shared Michelle. Fellow students, Delilah also expressed her interest in video game coding. However, Delilah would like to create an application that allows you to play various game types through one platform on your phone.
Ray was pleased with the students’ enthusiasm and began the lesson by sharing her screen with the group, and together they began reading the 1st chapter of Learning to Code. The young scholars learned the difference between computer hardware (physical parts) and software (programs and applications). They also realized that without coding, they would not be able to have their virtual lessons with the Spring Creek After School Program.
“The actual code-writing part is just a small piece of the process that uses the thinking and planning skill you already have and use every day in your life,” Ray said, reading the chapter out loud to the class.
The next step to understand coding was to use a program called Scratch, which allows the students to simulate coding commands. This activity gave the children an opportunity to make a cartoon cat walk, spin, and talk through caption bubbles.
Screenshots by Amanda Moses