OSAGE | On Monday, Feb. 26, students from Osage High School and Middle School computer science classes demonstrated coding projects they’d been working on this year, to members of the Osage Schools Board of Education.
In the middle school, students have constructed their own websites, while learning code, as well as digital citizenship. In addition, they have learned the importance of knowing what is proper and improper to put on the net and giving credit and acknowledging copyrights.
Middle school student, Cameron Lambert designed a website that allows him to catalogue his favorite movies by the years in which they were released.
“Many jobs are being created in the field of computer sciences, with not enough graduates, each year, to fill them,” said middle school computer sciences teacher Kelly Molitor. “Ninety percent of parents want their kids to learn computer sciences while only 40 percent of schools offer it.”
With women being underrepresented in the field of computer sciences, one thing pointed out was the group was well represented by female students, like Genasee Clayton, whose website contained stories about dogs and other animals she loved.
The middle school students were learning HTML language, how to change font styles, sizes, and even add gradients to backgrounds, in addition to how to input the numbers associated with each color, outline photos, among other things.
“We get to work at our own pace,” Clayton said. “It’s more suited to allow students to help each other or code other things. If we work fast enough, we can work ahead. It’s dabbling right now, but when we get to Mr. Kyhl, we can work a lot further.”
In the high school, there is an AP-level class offered, where students can take a test to get college credits for the things they’ve learned in high school. The class has grown to the point of being larger than the introductory class, which the school board voted, at the meeting, to require every student to take beginning, with the class of 2023.
“I think it’s really important nowadays to put a one semester equivalent into the high school course schedule and expand the computer science offerings,” said Tim Hejhal, Osage High School Principal. “They can take it any year, but ideally, we’d like them to take it as freshmen.”
Osage Superintendent Barb Schwamman discussed the importance of creating a valuable pathway for kids to learn more about computer sciences and understand the potential careers available in the field.
In the high school computer science class, students work with Java script, making their own apps, which they have the option of keeping for their own use, or selling to an app store.
“The first big project, kids worked on their own with little instruction,” said high school math teacher Chris Kyhl, “which made them work collaboratively. It’s a problem solving course that employs critical thinking which is one of the skills employees are looking for. Everyone has their own unique signature, and it comes out in their individual projects. We want our kids to have the advantages not many others have.”
Last year, teachers from Osage went to code.org in Houston, at no cost to the district, to learn all they could about the every evolving computer sciences programs and what they could potentially add into their school’s programs. In April, code.org will be coming to Osage to facilitate training for elementary school teachers, at no cost to the district.