• Introduction

     

    Why teach coding in middle school?  New research in brain imagery by the National Institute of Mental Health has shown that the middle school years is a period of new brain development in the prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) ending in early adulthood. The middle school student brain is developing from thinking literally to thinking analytically. This period of brain development is perfect for introducing children to analytical and critical thinking skills through coding.  

    Teaching coding develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies. This fundamental knowledge is needed to prepare students for the 21st century, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation.

    Foundational computer science courses in K–12 teach the fundamental concepts of computing, much like a physics course teaches fundamental concepts around the laws of motion and energy. The new AP  Computer  Science course under development focuses around seven big ideas at the core of computer science—creativity, abstraction, data, algorithms, programming, Internet and impact—that are fundamental to computer science, but applicable to analysis in many disciplines.

    By the year 2020 there will be 1.4 million jobs in coding but only 400,000 people with the skills to fill them.  Preparing our students in middle school with the foundational coding skills will provide them with the tools to succeed in higher level math classes.

     

    Further reading to support coding in middle school:

    Computing in the classroom: Teach it as early as possible  2014-05-12 // New York Times


     
    Why Scratch? Scratch is a programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations -- and share your creations with others around the world. In the process of designing and programming Scratch projects, young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. It is available for free athttp://scratch.mit.edu
    Each student will be given an anonymous Scratch user account to create/access the site during C.A.M.S. Parents may view their child’s programming work through this account. At the end of the semester, the accounts will be scrubbed.

     
    More Information
    • This is the visual presentation given by Marnie Hawk, TRT BRMS and Keith Hicks, TRT WHS, at the 2014 Virginia Society for Technology in Education conference.  VSTE Presentation 2014
    •  This is the webinar presented by Marnie Hawk, TRT BRMS and Keith Hicks, TRT WHS via the Virginia Society for Technology in Education.  VSTE Webinar