Chaparral Feeder Family Coding Night

Families Learn Together at the Chaparral Feeder Family Coding Night
Posted on 01/07/2020
Families Learn Together at the Chaparral Feeder Family Coding Night

PARKER – A dark room, illuminated by only the blue glow of a computer screen. All is silent, save for the rush of clicks and clacks escaping the buttons of a keyboard. This may seem like the natural habitat of a coder, but on December 10, the Chaparral feeder area sought to shake up that stereotype.

“There’s this misconception of coding as being an isolated activity,” says Megan Allwein, the Technology and Innovation teacher at Pine Lane Elementary. “It’s really about working together and solving problems.”

Isaac Ormsby, Cherokee Trail For a third year, the Chaparral feeder area hosted Family Coding Night at Sierra Middle School to help expand student knowledge and passion for computer science by exploring a variety of resources for families. Mammoth Heights Elementary, Pine Grove Elementary, Prairie Crossing Elementary, Pine Lane Elementary, Cherokee Trail Elementary, Sierra Middle School, and Chaparral High School took part in the collaborative effort to showcase the power of programming.

When students learn to code at a young age, the lessons can prepare them for the future and can empower them to learn perseverance, creativity, sequencing skills, counting, logical thinking, cause and effect, and critical thinking.

“[Their interest in coding and science] makes me really happy,” says Deborah Ormsby, parent to two Cherokee Trail students. “There’s a lot of good things you can learn and apply to other aspects of life.”

Fifth-grader Isaac, one of Ormsby’s sons, spent time playing Tetris using circuits created with Play-Doh.
Tanner Brown, Sierra Middle School
“See, I’m using the different Play-Dohs to control the [blocks on the screen]. This pink one, when you touch it, it makes the [block] go to the right. This blue one speeds [the block] up.”

Stations with varying tasks for different age groups were scattered throughout the gym, library, lunchroom, and classrooms of Sierra Middle School. From the simple kindergarten-friendly Bee Bot robots to the more advanced LEGO EV3 robots and Hour of Code, students at any age could find an engaging activity to share with their families.

Eighth-grader Tanner Brown demonstrated the custom-built LEGO EV3 robot he and Deegan Vehar, also in eighth grade, entered into the DCSD Middle School Robotics Competition.

“I took STEM and computer science in seventh and eighth grade,” says Brown. “I really like the puzzles and solving problems.”

So far, the Chaparral Feeder Area is the only Feeder in DCSD that hosts Family Coding Night and Hour of Code. Ryan Gudmundson with DCSD’s Curriculum, Instruction, Professional Growth (CIPG) Department and Debbie Blair, STEAM co-teacher at Prairie Crossing Elementary, are leading the push to make coding education accessible to more teachers through the DCSD Computer Science Teacher Leader (CSTLs) K-12 program. This group is working towards creating and providing ideas and resources for educators to support their computer science education efforts and will be available via a district website by the end of the 2019-20 school year.

“We have had several teachers attend so they can watch and get an understanding of what a Family Coding Night can look like,” says Blair. “We also host planning sessions to support other teachers who are interested in running an Hour of Code during the school day or in the evening.”

Special guests at the event included DCSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Tucker, Director of School Technology Mark Blair, and Colorado Department of Education Computer Science Content Specialist Chris Summers.

Families Coding Together Many parents sat with their students throughout the evening, guiding and collaborating with their children, sometimes receiving lessons themselves!

“When families support a child’s interest by learning together, that builds concrete relationships that help students flourish,” says Allwein.

The future careers of today’s DCSD students may not have been created yet. While this technology is advancing at a rapid pace, coding education builds a foundation for students to understand the technology around them. Family Coding Night allows students and families an opportunity to truly explore a 21st-century skill set that will serve students in their future careers.
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