Cool Schools: New coding class preps students for futures in tech
EDWARDSBURG, Mich. – Edwardsburg Middle School has a new class tapping in to the tech side of education, and preparing students for new careers!
“I’m preparing students for jobs that don’t exist right now,” said Stephanie McElwrath, technology teacher at Edwardsburg Middle School.
She’s teaching a new computer coding class to 8th grade students, helping them build up their own tech skills.
“I never had any experience with coding. I would have never thought I’d have this much fun doing it,” said Hanna Kertes, a student in the class.
So far, students have worked through web design, now they’re building their own games.
The school started branching out tech education at the beginning of the 2017 school year by buying two 3D printers.
After seeing a huge interest, McElwrath decided she wanted to give kids more options to code. Then she found code.org.
“It’s a completely online curriculum,” said McElwrath. “From a teacher aspect it is a very thorough curriculum.”
So she pitched the idea to the school.
“I was all on board with it,” said Edwardsburg Middle School Principal Rebecca Crocker. “And it turned out to be one of the best quality programs I’ve seen. And it’s free.”
Not only is the curriculum free, there’s free training for McElwrath.
“I go to follow-up workshops once every quarter so that I’m with those teachers that I learned this curriculum with that are from all over the state of Michigan,” said McElwrath. “I can sit with them and go ‘hey what problems are you having?’"
It’s a class that staff says adds another layer of opportunity for kids to find their strengths and prepares them for jobs.
“These kids will be global citizens. They’re digital natives in a way that I never was when I was a student,” said Crocker. “So allowing them to be successful out in the world by giving them this foundation, it’s priceless.”
Students say they plan to use these skills for the rest of their lives. Some even now interested in pursuing a career in computer programming.
McElwrath says with ever-changing technology, no matter what career the students pursue, this class will benefit them.
“To have these basic coding skills will make them feel so much more confident when they do go out and they’re looking for these jobs to say ‘I know how to do that.’”