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High School Students Teach Coding Concepts to Younger Kids in Broomfield

December 5, 2018

Centennial Elementary School students from left to right, Julianna Andrews, Jesus Quezada, and Aaliyah Vue work on a puzzle game with Bollman Technical Education School students as part of Center Computer Science Education Week.

Katherine “Kitty” Erickson, a second grader at Centennial Elementary School, got a lesson in computer programming by sitting in a story-time, stacking cups and playing a game.

Using four colored tokens, she worked out the steps needed to navigate a map in the programming logic game Code Master.

“And it’s a pattern,” she said excitedly.

High school students with Bollman Technical Education Center in Thornton hosted a “buddy program” with about 160 Broomfield elementary school students Tuesday to share their understanding, and appreciation, of coding.

Bollman computer science instructor Bobbie Bastian told each round of children gathered in the school library that her high school students would be graded on how well they taught the Centennial students.

“It has multiple benefits,” Bastian said, starting with her students’ understanding of concepts well enough to explain it to young children.

“It’s a good outreach to give back to the little guys and for the little ones to see someone like them at the high school level who has gone down the computer science pathway,” she said.

Bollman Tech, which offers career and technical educational programs, brought students from all five of the district’s comprehensive high schools who currently are enrolled in Introduction to Computer Science, Advanced Placement Computer Science A, Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles and Cyber Security.

In the past, the school has invited younger students to their campus, but this year they are visiting four elementary school campuses to reach more young minds.

Adams 12 Five Star School District campuses will recognize Computer Science Education Weekthrough Dec. 7. The week is dedicated to inspiring kindergarten through 12th grade students and teachers to learn more about computer science.

Schools also will take part in “The Hour of Code,” which is part of an international focus on coding during Computer Science Education Week.

Kristen Loesel, digital literacy teacher and librarian at Centennial, said students in kindergarten through fifth grade learn various levels of coding. This was the first year she helped to lead the lessons.

Anna Otto, computer science and online learning coordinator with the district, said bringing other computer science minds into schools helps students and shows teachers how to run these types of programs on their own.

Computer science can seem intimidating, she said, and the district does all it can to help teachers with professional development, including the creation of an online course where teachers receive credit for planning an Hour of Code activity.

In the past, about 10,000 students have participated in Computer Science Education Week; this year the goal is 15,000.

At Centennial, students can code in the school’s Genius Corner — a program held during student lunch period.

Alex Gutierrez, 17, always knew he was interested in engineering — he loved building things and figuring out how to fix things that weren’t working. As a freshman in high school, he learned about Bollman and decided he wanted to take classes to develop software.

When he was younger, his school didn’t have the type of software to teach coding, he said, and even now his family still doesn’t have a desktop computer where he can code. Gutierrez was impressed with the elementary school students’ progress.

“Some come in here with some or no experience,” he said, “and they leave at the end of the day knowing what an algorithm is or what debugging is. I think it’s cool to see that improvement.”

Students were divided into three stations — online coding with code.org , coding taught with cup-stacking, and literacy and logic where high school students read Ara the Star Engineer and played logic board games.

Garrett Dawdy, a student at Bollman, gave a history lesson to his group of second graders about the evolution of the computer. He read about Alan Turing, who conceived the basic principle of the modern computer, and explained how data has been saved — from punch cards to compact discs and thumb drives.

Bastian ended each class by calling on students to explain terms they learned — such as how “debugging” is finding errors in code and explaining what an algorithm is — and having Bollman students race each other to see who could solve a Rubik’s Cube the fastest.

Later Tuesday afternoon, students at Westlake Middle School welcomed employees from Amazon who ran classes on coding.

Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, riosj@broomfieldenterprise.com or Twitter.com/Jennifer_Rios

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