The South Shore Coding and Technology Club

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Mary Maderich

Leevi Tapani & Peyton Jardine (at the computer) demo “Jumpster,” a game they created for the CESA12 Coding Day event.

Jamie Glass, Technology Director, South Shore School District

In the technology world, “coding” is typically another term for computer programming.

In November 2016, I was approached by a representative from CESA12 asking if I would mentor a Gifted and Talented activity group called CSI Online.  Initially the program was supposed to be equal parts playing a forensics game hosted by Rice University called “CSI Online” and learning to write code in the Blockly programming language.  Our group was a variety of boys and girls grades 5 through 8.  About a month into the activity the group shrank down from 11 to eight members.  The remaining members were eager to learn programming and told me “Mr. Glass, we want to code!”  So, I altered the focus of the group to be solely about programming.  We started them out using the code.org learning modules introduced to me by CESA12.  By March of this year, it was time to move on to creating their own games.  Their final projects were due in six weeks and code.org would not suffice for the games they wanted to design.  They moved on to Scratch, another Blockly utility, which focuses more on creating than training.  I split the 8 members into four teams of two and had them work together as typical video game development teams.  Each team split up responsibilities in the areas of programming, storyline, concept, art and design.

On April 18, the eight students from South Shore attended a GT Coding Day at CESA12 where they would further their programming education, get to program some little robots called Ozobots and finally showcase their video games to their peers from other schools.  It was a great experience for the kids and myself alike.

Game development teams:

EXPERIMENT X – Jacob Nollet, lead designer and  programmer (Grade 7).  Veda Dreher, artist, storyline (Grade 7)

Panzer Project – Xander Polkoski, lead programmer (Grade 7), Sierra Butler, assistant designer, concept (Grade 8)

Tap Racer – Isabella Rantala, lead programmer (Grade 6),  Carter Ray storyline and documentation (Grade 5)

Jumpster – Leevi Tapani, lead programmer (Grade 6), Peyton Jardine storyline and documentation (Grade 5)

In the midst of the growth of this project, several more 6th graders at South Shore became interested in coding and I’ve been taking them during their tech. ed. period to learn the ropes just like their peers had months ago.  The 6th, 7th and 8th graders from the original group are working on Code Combat now.

Code Combat is an educational utility to teach the students Javascript; a programming language in high demand worldwide for developing web applications.  To be able to write Javascript in middle school is quite a feat.

I really didn’t want to see this end with the field trip at CESA12.  Fortunately, our devoted Science teacher, Beth Hoagland, didn’t either.  Beth and I are teaming up to mentor an after school co-curricular called “Coding and Technology Club.” The members will be learning coding, robotics, 3D design and printing and other high tech applications.  We aim to offer the opportunity for students interested in these areas to have fun, learn and grow as a team.  We will be meeting Monday and Tuesdays after school and started on April 24.

Mary Maderich
Jacob Nollet (at the computer) & Veda Dreher showcase their game, EXPERIMENT X, at the CESA12 Coding Day event.