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Goshen students learning to code thanks to Google grant

Goshen College junior Megan Gerke helps seventh grader Sam Smith and sixth grader Nayely Arellano with a coding challenge during a coding club meeting at Goshen Middle School. (Photo by Brian Yoder Schlabach)

GOSHEN, Ind. (WOWO): Goshen Middle Schoolers are learning how to code with the help of Goshen College students and a grant from Google.

In April 2016, Goshen College’s Digital Eve group, led by Jeanette Shown, associate professor of computer science and information technology, and Meghan Gerke, a junior information technology major, received an $8,500 grant from Google’s IgniteCS program, an initiative that supports student groups committed to developing and delivering a computer science outreach program in their community.

Since October, student mentors from Goshen College have been holding a once-a-week coding club of about 30 students at Goshen Middle School, teaching computer science and programming “from hardware up to software,” Shown said.

A highlight of the club, according to Shown, is that nearly half of the middle school students participating in the program are girls.

“Middle school is the time when a lot of kids stop pursuing their interest in the scientific fields, especially girls,” Shown said. “We lose them in middle school, so we’re trying to recapture that interest.”

 

The students are learning to code using Raspberry Pi computers – single-board computers the size of a credit card – connected to 7-inch LCD touchscreens and wireless keyboards, all of which are paid for by the grant.

Students team up to solve problems and puzzles using code, play programming games, create mathematical artwork and build their coding skills.

 

The grant is renewable, so if all goes well this year Shown plans to apply again next year. “I think it’s a great teaching experience for Goshen students,” she said.

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