Education News

Computer Science Coming To More Houston Schools

Houston ISD is partnering with the nonprofit Code.org to make computer science a core class.

Kaan Yilmaz and Gabrielle Beckham
Kaan Yilmaz and Gabrielle Beckham are both in the fifth grade at Kolter Elementary. As part of “Hour of Code,” they’re creating a computer game featuring an under-water world and a unicorn.

 

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier
Kaan Yilmaz and Gabrielle Beckham are both in the fifth grade at Kolter Elementary. As part of “Hour of Code,” they’re creating a computer game featuring an under-water world and a unicorn.

What do President Obama, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and the Disney Frozen princesses, Anna and Elsa, all have in common? They all want kids to spend an hour on computer coding this week.

That’s what’s happening at Kolter Elementary in Meyerland in Southwest Houston as part of National Computer Science Week.

There, fifth grader Gabrielle Beckham has never done any computer coding before. But now she’s coding with a buddy in the tech lab. And she wants to do it again.

“Because it’s actually really fun to do!” she said. “I thought it was just going to be like just playing games that you usually do. But it’s not. It’s like you’re creating your world.”

That’s exactly the kind of interest educators and technology leaders want to spark in young students, especially girls and students of color like Gabrielle.

“Only by accessing the formal classrooms and making sure you can reach all students is the way we’re going to get at the issue of how are we going to get more minorities, how are we going to get more women participating,” says Cameron Wilson, chief operating officer with the Seattle-based nonprofit Code.org.

Wilson gave Kolter Elementary $10,000 for their campus-wide plan to meet the “Hour of Code” challenge. It’s the only school in Texas to receive that award.

But Code.org wants to go beyond that.

It’s partnering with HISD to bring computer science classes to all middle and high schools next fall.

Currently only 20 high schools in the district offer the course, and it’s not clear how many middle schools do.

Wilson said Code.org will help prepare teachers to instruct the courses.

Superintendent Terry Grier says the expanded computer science courses will help students develop important skills.

“You see them working together, you see them problem-solving, you see them thinking logically and sequentially — all the skills you hear that are needed to be successful in the world of college and the world of work,” he said.

Cameron Wilson chief operating officer of Code-org
Cameron Wilson, chief operating officer of Code.org, presents a $10,000 award to Kolter Elementary for its campus-wide effort to meet the “Hour of Code” challenge. The money will help buy new computer hardware for its computer science program.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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