Every public school student in the United States learns about photosynthesis, electricity and the human digestive system. But, Copperas Cove ISD also teaches students how to develop software applications and provides the opportunity to learn about algorithms through computer programming.

CCISD hosted two sessions for junior high students and their families to learn computer coding through the interactive hands-on learning experience, Together We Code, funded by a Department of Defense Education Activity grant.

Coding is a skill learned through computer science and is emerging as a new language, potentially as important as reading and writing, said Copperas Cove DoDEA grant director Tori Noon.

“Early exposure to coding teaches students to understand the importance of computers as valuable tools across multiple career fields. Computing is fundamental to our daily life,” Noon said. “Our students will see coding as an essential skill to master while improving mathematical reasoning and computational thinking.”

In the first of two sessions, families participated in digital and unplugged activities to gain an understanding of what coding is and why it is important to learn. Parents and students worked together to solve problems and understand algorithms. Families received resources so that they could continue learning together at home.

S. C. Lee Junior high teacher and STEM coach Wayne Knutson said the sessions are great opportunities to introduce computer science coding concepts to both students and parents.

“I think the parent(s) enjoyed it as much, if not more, than the students,” Knutson said. “They had a chance to see what their kids know and the kids have a chance to show off a little.”

S. C. Lee seventh grader Sariah Barber said her favorite activity was using what she and her family learned with the unplugged activities when they started coding on the computer.

“I felt we were challenged but also got to work together as a family to learn more about coding,” Barber said. “We had fun showing my mom what we could do and teaching her how to do it too. We already set up an account on code.org to continue working at home together.”

The Copperas Cove Codes DoDEA Grant IV aims to increase students’ computational, mathematical, and problem-solving skills while preparing them for more rigorous secondary and post-secondary coursework. Only 40 percent of U.S. schools teach computer programming and only 32 states, including Texas and CCISD, allow computer science to count towards high school graduation math or science requirements, according to Code.org.

CCISD conducts Together We Code Nights each semester at both S. C. Lee and Copperas Cove Junior High Schools.

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