Entrepreneur High School Kids That Code
By Dianne Anderson
Kids learned to code from scratch over the weekend – specifically with the online collaborative block-based introductory programming language developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab.
In other words, they remixed lots of fun new hacks in creative ways.
Ray Culberson, executive director of Entrepreneur High School in Highland, said coding is a big attraction for the kids these days, and he is energized about their recent partnership, a three-part Kids that Code class through Arrowhead United Way.
Since the high school opened in August, he has expanded outreach for events and services for the students, opening up their 150,000 square foot facility to be utilized by community partners.
Right now, the school has about 200 students attending, which he expects to quadruple over the next four years. The students are making good grades.
“I’m amazed at the progress they’ve made, and their maturity level,” Culberson said. “We are trying to build their cohorts now so they can travel through the ninth grade with their cohorts.”
Almost everything in the classroom and future job growth is related to some aspect of computer science. At this stage of technology in society, he sees STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) exposure as critical for the kids.
“It’s 100% important to be able to do coding, and partnerships with community and individuals who are pressing forward with our kids so they can get exposed to a whole different world,” he said.
In the coming weeks, the school is launching other STEM projects. Students are working with a new innovation studio, a maker space to spark their creativity with robotics.
He said they also have rolled out their first e-sports tournament, a computer-based program.
‘”Our technology kids are all into it. We made a big investment into that,” he said.
Through e-sports computer programs, interested students could transition to gaming development, leading to coding or web development. Other students may want to work business math models, and if they like it, shift to the engineering side.
He said reality-based education is about working with students where they are to develop their natural curiosity for science.
“We could have chemical engineering, electrical, environmental, computer hardware, object-oriented programming, real-world hardware coding skills,” he said. “It’s our job to find ways to creatively bring these kinds of programs together.”
Gretchen Strutzenberg, AUW program manager, said their three day Saturday events this month pulled a great showing this time around. Low-income families who signed their students up for the class paid a $25 seat reservation fee, but will be reimbursed the fee when their student attends all three sessions.
Another upcoming STEM camp will be held at Cal State University, San Bernardino starting December 17 through December 20. The program runs from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Strutzenberg said that low to moderate income students are eligible for sponsorship, and the $50 reservation fee that will be reimbursed to parents if their students attend all four days. Students there will cover a variety of technology: build a website, create video games, learn about electricity, and work with an Arduino microcontroller.
For the students at the Entrepreneur High School, she said that learning Scratch is a coveted type of coding platform not available to most of their peers, or even first-year college students. Through the classes, the kids are getting in on the front end of learning some of the latest high demand code.
Students may come in the door as digital novices, but they will leave with a powerful new set of software skills.
“They are very engaging, and very patient. They’re not speaking over the kid’s heads,” she said. “This is the programming language that is being taught to Harvard and Berkeley first-year students.”
Instructors work with the students one on one and are able to introduce complex software development concepts in a fun way that students can understand.
“They are also getting exposed to high-end mathematics and programming. As a sampling, they are learning to build and read algorithms,” she said. “This is the awesome sauce.”
For information on the AUW Stem Camps, see https://kidsthatcode.org/auw/