PCS kids learn to code

PCS students will learn computer coding as part of the school system's computer science initiative. (File)

PCS students will learn computer coding as part of the school system’s computer science initiative. (File)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—Fourth and fifth graders at Pelham City Schools will soon learn computer coding. As part of the school system’s computer science initiative, students will supplement science and math lessons with coding, PCS Curriculum Coordinator Dr. Elisabeth Davis said.

“We’re going to start with professional development for all of our fourth and fifth grade teachers,” Davis said.

On Dec. 11 and 12, fourth and fifth grade teachers will receive coding training from Dr. Jeff Gray, a computer science professor at the University of Alabama School of Engineering. Coding will be integrated into lesson plans during the spring semester.

“It’s making it real for (the students),” Davis said. “Instead of doing (problems) in a textbook or workbook, they’re seeing what it does in the real world.”

Davis referenced a lesson plan for a unit covering algorithms and graphing. Students plot patterns on graph paper and come up with clear steps to lead classmates to reproduce their patterns. The lesson is then reinforced with creating code for a computer to reproduce the pattern.

“They apply vocabulary terms and graphing, but what they’ll come out with is an app,” Davis said.

The coding will not only reinforce science, mathematics and technology, it supplements english and language arts as well, Davis said.

“They have to present and collaborate,” Davis said.

In addition to applying coding to fourth and fifth grade lessons, students at Riverchase Middle School and Pelham High School will participate in National Week of Code from Dec. 8 through 12.

University of Alabama computer science graduate student Amber Wagner will lead students through “an hour of code,” Davis said.

“It exposes kids to what (coding) is and who is doing it,” Davis said. “They’re writing scripts to get things to work. Sometimes they’re using mathematical computation, sometimes they’re using a mathematical formula.”

Davis also said PHS is applying for a grant to add a computer science course to the offerings at Pelham High School for the 2015-2016 academic year.

“They’ll think they’re playing games,” Davis said of coding, noting it will not just be a learning tool, but it will be fun.