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Coding takes center stage at Peninsula schools
December 10, 2013, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Students in Tim Weaver’s third and fourth split grade class at Roosevelt Elementary School in Burlingame learn coding through the Scratch program from parent Sophie Chiang.

Schools across the county yesterday kicked off Computer Science Education Week with programs encouraging students to code.

Roosevelt Elementary School in Burlingame is participating by having students in grades kindergarten through fifth-grade work on lessons and activities based around the skill of computer coding. Principal Matthew Pavao said the week works as an introduction to programming and is also fun for the students. Lessons are on a program called Scratch and another called Light-bot.

“It’s going to be a major part of the world and where jobs are,” he said. “It helps them work on their critical thinking skills too.”

The week was conceived by the Computing in the Core coalition and, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to expanding and improving computer science education for all students in kindergarten to 12th-grade. Both are producing the week nationwide for the first time this year. It is held this week in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who was born Dec. 9, 1906. It has the support of businessman and philanthropist Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and former President Bill Clinton.

Back at Roosevelt, third-grade teacher Christy Novack is currently teaching her students using iPads through Light-bot, online puzzle and skill games that teach about programming.

“We want to encourage kids to start thinking and understanding how coding works,” she said. “Jobs in tech are going to become more important.”

In fact, according to a report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce four of the five fastest-growing occupations in 2020 will require high levels of postsecondary education in fields such as health care and technical occupations; science, technology, engineering and math; education and community services.

These Peninsula schools, along with schools in 45 other states, are grappling with new Common Core curriculum. These new standards shift to more project-based learning, with more of an emphasis on students using technology in classrooms. The tests associated with these changes, Smarter Balance testing, align with these new standards, and go into effect during the 2014-15 school year.

Meanwhile, Burlingame High School is hosting its own events this week, including a speech from 2013 TED Talks keynote speaker Keller Rinaudo, founder and CEO of Romotive, at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the high school’s auditorium, 1 Mangini Way.

Additionally, the San Bruno Education Foundation, San Bruno Park Elementary School District and other groups will host an hour of code event noon.-2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 for those age 5 and up at Parkside Middle School, 1801 Niles Road in San Bruno. It’s $5 with a lunch included and aims to demystify programming through tutorials.

As part of the week, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson participated yesterday in a school assembly at Westborough Middle School in the South San Francisco Unified School District to kick off the district’s events. Torlakson presented a $10,000 check to the school from The prize is intended to go toward technology allowing students to expand their education in computer science. Students in the district will each have an hour of coding lessons this week.

“Hopefully it’s going to get the kids interested in computer science,” said Principal Ed Colucci. “And learning to problem solve and getting them to apply some of their lessons as we do the Common Core. Kids are really excited about it.”

Founding partners of the week include Google, Microsoft and the National Science Teachers Association, while major promotional partners include Apple, Bing, Dropbox and LinkedIn.

In addition to the schools’ events this week, the education startup Codecademy released an iPhone app called Codecademy: Hour of Code, which helps iPhone owners learn the basics of coding in under one hour through a set of quick demonstrations and exercises designed to be completed in short bursts throughout the day. Codeacademy’s website teaches people to code in languages including JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Python and Ruby.

For more information visit

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: school, education, students, science, computer, through,

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