Here’s how one Washington district has made coding a priority, even during the pandemic shutdown

5 reasons to set up a coding program in your district

Here’s how one Washington district has made coding a priority, even during the pandemic shutdown

At Everett Public Schools, we’ve always had a robotics team at the elementary and secondary levels. Last year we were up to 50 robotics teams within the FIRST organization. During the shutdown, we went into a panic over how students wouldn’t be able to physically “touch” and work on the robots on campus anymore.

I didn’t want to lose our robotics stipend, nor did we want students to miss out on that learning during the shutdown. For help, we started searching for an online platform that would augment our in-person robotics curriculum.

We found what we were looking for in CoderZ and soon after, we shifted our entire robotics curriculum over to that platform. We weren’t sure how many students would want to log in from home voluntarily, but our participation levels have actually grown since the pandemic shut down in-person learning in March 2020.

Here are five reasons why we put energy and effort into creating and growing our coding programs:

1. Students need programming skills for today and for the future. We believe that all students need to have some programming experience in their life as the world is moving towards more automation. Simply having basic coding fundamentals is going to become more important to these youngsters, and we know that.   

2. Teachers needn’t be “techies.” With our online coding platform, you don’t have to be a computer science teacher to be able to teach kids how to code. A lot of our coaches are elementary school teachers who jumped into the platform with ease. As someone who supports teachers on technology—including complex subjects like CAD robotics—having a platform that allows instructors at all levels to jump in, even if they don’t know much about coding, is extremely beneficial.

3. Students love it. The gamification of learning is a great way to teach technical topics that some students would naturally shy away from. Our students cannot wait to show up, start programming, and start solving problems. It’s work, but because it’s fun, it just doesn’t feel like work to them.    

4. Remote isn’t a problem. Coding and building robots can happen in the virtual world just as easily as it takes place in a physical classroom. So even though we can’t always meet in person, CoderZ lets our students continue to learn while we maintain the programming curriculum, all while promoting virtual collaboration and teamwork among our students. It’s definitely a win-win.

5. It gets girls involved with STEM. Offering a robotics curriculum helps us introduce STEM and computer technology early. Right now, for example, we have two teams at each one of our 19 elementary schools. We know through many studies that girls in particular don’t access STEM activities, and they quickly pivot away from them because they don’t recognize the career opportunity. Right now, at the elementary level, our teams are made up of 50 percent girls, if not more.

Our robotics program keeps growing every year as we welcome new students to the club. We’ve expanded to both a fall and spring league, which gives the kids more time to program, code the robots, and gain valuable experience. We’re reaching more of our students and continuing to use tools like CoderZ to enhance our students’ coding and robotics experience.

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