Coding coming to Maple Ridge classrooms

September 7, 2016

By Neil Corbett – Maple Ridge News

Kids are back to school this week and the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district is booting up new ways to teach coding and technology.

Premier Christy Clark expressed the government’s desire to see coding in classrooms early in 2016, and School District No. 42’s director of instruction, David Vandergugten, offered some insight into what students will be doing.

His favourite mode of teaching coding is with a program call Scratch, developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology specifically to introduce kids to code.

“It’s like Lego blocks. Its fun.”

Scratch overlays code the way that Windows overlays DOS.

It creates a more user friendly interface, where users take blocks of code and stick them together.

“Instead of having to type these archaic commands,” Vandergugten explained.

Most importantly, Scratch coding teaches kids computational thinking.

“They’re taking a larger problem and breaking it down into smaller problems that can be solved,” he said.

“That’s a valuable skill in any context.”

Students don’t get an A or a C-plus on a coding worksheet.

“The feedback the kid gets is, ‘My game is working.’”

Scratch is a program that students and their parents should get to know.

“It’s brilliant – MIT has the top thinkers in the world. It’s as complex as you want it to be.”

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