The facilitators explained that there are many computer programming jobs that have to go unfilled because of the lack of qualified applicants. The students' ages ranged from 6th grade to 12th grade and they were all very excited about what they were learning. I was surprised how easily they took to the somewhat technical instructions given them. Even though I just practiced with some simple coding, I felt the process become a little demystified. I saw the trajectory the students had begun that, if followed, could lead them to a successful future in an area where their skills would be exceptional and valued.
If we are trying to help the students to be "college and/or career ready", this is what it looks like. I look forward to seeing more of what the students are doing in this App club and perhaps extending it to younger students. I learned about a website, Code.org, and an organization, Plural Site, that is available to teach kids and adults computer programming. One hang up teachers have about facilitating something like this with their students is not having the knowledge base to confidently teach it. These resources are available to practice and learn the concepts to teach students. Plural Site has some modules that guide students through some simple programming available for free. They are also willing to come to schools and help facilitate workshops for teachers and students.
I haven't seen a lesson in a long time that felt so important. The students seemed to react the same way. It's really a great thing to see the students excited to learn something that is very relevant to their future! Programming uses so many skills that teachers work to activate in students everyday, sometimes without success. Many students are quite interested in technology and would like to work in a related field someday. Teaching them the language of programming opens those doors and helps them to be successful in a field they enjoy. These skills they begin in middle school could lead them to great success as scientific innovators. I can't wait to learn more!