Students don’t always need to jump right into a programming tutorial to develop an interest in coding. Sometimes, all it takes is an engaging book–and with most students across the country learning from home in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, a downloadable resource they can do from their own home may be just the thing to spark their interest in coding.
A children’s book from Skyward, The Code Twins, introduces coding concepts to young readers of all backgrounds as they take on a programming mission with the book’s main characters.
The Code Twins takes young readers on a coding adventure with characters Brett, Yvette, and Cody Point Two. Along the way, Brett and Yvette help code Cody Point Two, their robot friend, to learn and accomplish new tasks.
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Their story, told in verse, features colorful illustrations and fun experiences which demonstrate problem solving, critical thinking, interdisciplinary learning, and more.
“This book was created around one simple question: how can we build more interest in coding,” explains Ray Ackerlund, Skyward’s chief marketing officer. “We saw a growing movement to incorporate coding in classrooms, but not enough resources to support the push in earlier age groups. The Code Twins helps fill that gap by encouraging kids to make the transition from tech users to tech creators.”
According to Code.org, only 49,291 students graduated with a computer science degree in 2015, leaving more than 570,000 jobs vacant. Such a deficit demonstrates the urgent need to build enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in all students. By introducing young readers to the idea of STEM and computational thinking during early childhood experiences, The Code Twins hopes to inspire younger age groups and close the opportunity gap.
“One of our biggest challenges as a company is finding enough developers,” says Ackerlund. “While our primary goal with this book is to build excitement for coding among kids, we are intrigued by the idea this book may inspire some kids to pursue careers in programming, which could lead them to a career at Skyward down the road.”
The Code Twins also hopes to promote diversity in STEM fields. As of 2018, only 28 percent of computer science AP exam students were female and just 21 percent of students were underrepresented minorities, according to Code.org. Readers will discover that Brett and Yvette come from a biracial background, while their robot, Cody Point Two, is female.
Downloadable resources such as The Code Twins are helpful because they’re accessible to students who might not have a lot of computer science resources in their own schools. A new Code.org report notes that across 24 states, just 35 percent of high schools in the U.S. teach computer science–and minority, rural, and economically disadvantaged students are even less likely to go to a school offering computer science.
Stakeholders, including parents, students, and teachers, play an important role in advocating for computer science, according to education leaders. Raising awareness around the need for computer science education, and illustrating students’ eagerness to learn coding skills, can help decision-makers become more pro-computer science education.
The book, which is sponsored by Mid-State Technical College and the Central Wisconsin Information Technology Alliance, is currently available for download in either Kindle or PDF.
Material from a press release was used in this report.