“Wow. Mr. W. look what I did,” said Evan. “Oh yeah...Look at what level I’m on,” said Julia. Evan and Julia think they are playing a game. In some ways they are playing a game. The game teaches Evan and Julia, and students like them in Ms. Grube’s class, some basic ideas. The students learn the concepts of repeating, functions, if: then statements and looping. These concepts have to do with logic and they also are foundational skills for computer programming.
By the year 2020, statistics say that in America we will have 1 million more computing jobs than students to fill them. The fascinating thing is that the year 2020 is only 6 years away. All of the students in Kirsten Grube’s class just love working on the iPads. They are very engaged. Students work in centers and spend about 15 to 20 minutes a day learning to be young computer programmers.
Computers are everywhere and that makes some people want to avoid them. I just don’t think you can avoid computers any more. Businesses involving agriculture, automobiles, manufacturing, healthcare and entertainment, just about every thing somehow involves computers. Avoiding computers is about as equivalent to not using a school book or a pencil and paper. More and more jobs are requiring graduating students to know how to use computers as a tool to complete work. To a bit of a lesser degree, right now, not only will students need to know how computers function, students will have to be the ones who engineer the computers to be a better tool for others.
Some of us, in my generation, took computer programming, around the 1980s, in high school. Some of us took to it and some of us did not. In many cases in high school, back in the 80s, students where just thrown into BASIC computer programming. Many of us had a bad experience with programming because we did not learn some of the necessary foundational skills to programming. What happened to many students in the 80s was the equivalent of being thrown into the language class Spanish 4 without having Spanish 1, Spanish 2 or Spanish 3.
That is not what is happening in Cattaraugus Little Valley. Some students, from an early age are learning how to make a computerized robot make a square on a computer screen. Some students are learning that if they don’t want to write out code over and over again, code that does the same thing, then they can use a loop. I have no doubt, that one day, we will hear about Evan or Julia, or some other student, who has helped to put people on Mars, contributed to cars that drive themselves or invented a micro controlled nanoparticle that cures cancer.
By: Rick Weinberg, CA BOCES