Shelby County School students learn programming in CodeHS

Roberts works on coding problems using the Chromebook, which each student in the CodeHS will receive to use for the course. (Reporter Photo / Ginny Cooper McCarley)

Roberts works on coding problems using the Chromebook, which each student in the CodeHS will receive to use for the course. (Reporter Photo / Ginny Cooper McCarley)

By GINNY COOPER MCCARLEY / Staff Writer

CHELSEA—Aaron Roberts, a senior at Chelsea High School, developed an interest in coding after seeing his friends’ work.

Roberts is now part of a pilot program in Shelby County Schools for CodeHS, an online course designed and administered by Stanford University Computer Science graduates, which is designed specifically for high school students who have no previous background in computer programming.

Roberts, who plans to attend Jefferson State Community College before transferring to the University of Alabama in Huntsville to major in astrophysics, said he hopes the course will help him in his future career.

“Learning to code will help me a lot with physics engines,” Roberts said. “I’m really enjoying (the course). It is very well written, it’s a good learning experience.”

Though the course is online, two instructors add a human element to the class. Jason McGinnis, a network administrator for Shelby County Schools, and Faith Pack, a STI data administrator and trainer for the system, offer feedback on students’ assignments and are available to students when they need assistance.

“It’s all self-contained, but we add the human element to ensure kids do the best they can,” McGinnis said.

Currently, 19 students in schools across Shelby County schools are enrolled in the program, including one student from Vincent High School, four students from Montevallo High School and 14 students from Chelsea High School.

Though some students in the course are learning coding for the first time, some students are more advanced, Pack said.

One MHS student who is enrolled in the class, Wezley Sherman, recently developed a computer application designed to help students with disabilities learn core subjects. The app will be the in the inaugural House Student App Challenge.

“Some of the students are self-taught,” Pack said. “This is a way to help them meet industry standards.”

Students who are advanced will have the opportunity to complete more difficult challenges, Pack and McGinnis said.

Chelsea High School Principal Wayne Trucks said the course will prepare Shelby County students for both college and the work force.

“This is going to put our students ahead of other students who do not have this opportunity,” Trucks said.