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RPS students learn to code

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Gage Elementary School second-grader Charlotte Hauser focuses on engineering and technology using Lightbot as an hour of code activity Friday.

Robots spun, lit up and whizzed around the classrooms at Gage Elementary School Friday.

Behind movement was a group of elementary students, many learning to code for the first time. The students joined schools across the country this week for "Hour of Code."

The hour-long activity engages students in coding to expose them to computer science and integrate those lessons with other types of learning. Another goal is to get all students involved and close the diversity gap in computer science.

The Hour of Code involves schools nationwide, and it's supported by more than 300 partners, including the College Board, Microsoft, Google, The Walt Disney Company and Target.

The activity helps students with problem solving and collaboration, said Gage library media specialist Stacie Alison. She said the goal is to get students to work on other skills too, like persistence and patience.


"We don't know what jobs are going to exist for kids when they graduate, so if we can teach them to think and problem solve and collaborate," Alison said. "It's basically going to equip them for whatever job that they have."

There are about 30-40 robots and Apps out there that allow students to learn to code, Alison said, but all of the students were working with Code.org, which offers tutorials online.

One of the program's the 1st grade classrooms were working with was Bee Bot, a small robot resembling a bee that can be programmed with arrows on its back.

The goal for students is to program the bee to travel through obstacles or paths. Alison said it forces them to think ahead and create a strategy and instead of just working toward an end goal, the goal is to work on strong communication and collaboration skills along the way.

"We're trying to explain that it's the journey, it's the path there, that's the fun, interesting, learning part of this."

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