Coding club scratches itch for kids to learn

L’ANSE — Brian Perry, CS First coding club teacher for L’Anse Area Schools District, hopes for the expansion of coding clubs in the district.

CS First is a Google program focused on increasing student access and exposure to Computer Science (CS) education through after school and summer programs.

Perry, who teaches fourth and fifth grades, said coding has become more popular.

“The district is looking to expand opportunities into the middle and high school,” he said.

Perry said the club has reached its third year and is looking to gain new members. They currently have 12 members.

The most it has had in previous years was 24.

According to Google, more than 11,500 students in Michigan have participated in CS First. The program is designed for ages 9-14 but can include other ages as well.

Facilitators use the video content to teach kids coding basics with Scratch, a block-based coding tool. The program is broken into eight lessons.

Perry says this year’s theme is storytelling. This includes lessons on dialogue and settings and concludes with an innovation story.

“The club has been great,” said Perry. “The kids are very enthusiastic.”

The children do learn similar concepts in their classrooms, but Perry says the club is for “kids who want extra experience.”

The program seems to work well at making the concepts attainable for the students.

“The Scratch program makes it pretty accessible to them,” said Perry.

Scratch, an open-source software program, challenges them, but they enjoy learning.

“The more kids learn the more they want to know,” Perry said.

Perry said some kids become more knowledgeable than he is.

“Sometimes they get better at it than I am,” he said.

He says he then has to go ask others how to help.