SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Teachers at three Sioux Falls elementary schools are preparing to teach first-graders how to write computer code and basic programming as part of a new immersion program.

Dozens of elementary school teachers are learning this week how to teach coding as part of a new computer science immersion program in partnership with Code to the Future. The company helps integrate computer science programs into schools, the Argus Leader reported .

Teachers in the two-day training are working through projects and assignments that their students will do in the coming months. Hayward Elementary teacher Christina Godshall is designing backdrops and using code to navigate a character through a digital maze.

"It's almost like Mario. ... you have to get your script, which is like your character, and get your character to move based on writing the code," Godshall said.

The programs will start this year at Hayward, Lowell Elementary and Anne Sullivan Elementary as students from kindergarten through fifth grade will have computer science integrated into their regular curriculum. Code to the Future will assign coaches to help teachers on a weekly basis throughout the school year.

District leaders hope that teaching code will prepare children for the future workforce and keep them engaged in their education.

"If I'm this engaged. ... I can only imagine how excited my kids are going to be," said Jayne Leonard, an instructional coach at Hayward.

Leonard said the excitement among teachers ensured her and other administrators that the program is the right thing for the district. She said the first days of training set the stage for why computer science immersion helps children.

"It gives us kind of a backdrop of, OK, we need to get ourselves prepared," Godshall said. "So these kids can have the best step forward and start to be successful in a technology-driven world."


Information from: Argus Leader,