Third-grader Savannah Gomez plays a game that teaches basic programming concepts Thursday afternoon as part of Computer Science Education Week. Photos by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Third-grader Savannah Gomez plays a game that teaches basic programming concepts Thursday afternoon as part of Computer Science Education Week. Photos by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Getting with the program

The software engineers of tomorrow might have been sitting in a third-grade classroom at Oak Harbor Elementary School Thursday afternoon.

Or they could’ve been in 100,000 classrooms worldwide that participated in Computer Science Education Week.

All Oak Harbor public schools participated in the week, which included “Hour of Code” tutorials/games that introduce people of all ages to computer programming.

Cienna Curran’s third-grade class entered in a series of directions in a game centered around cleaning a beach Thursday. The children were essentially writing a simple program to solve mazes using basic coding concepts.

A few of the children had some kind of understanding about what coding meant — one boy said that it was something used “back in the ’80s and ’90s” to “tell computers what to do.” Other students recognized its role in video game development.

The game came from Kodable, a children-oriented coding curriculum aimed at helping kindergartners through fifth graders learn to program.

The long-term goal of all of the activities that took place over the course of the week is to get more young people thinking about careers related to computer science. Employment in the computer and information technology sector is projected to grow by 12 percent by 2028, adding about 546,200 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Curran’s third graders might not be ready to jump into a software career, but some of them were interested in doing more coding.

“It’s pretty hard,” Jaxon Baldwin said.

But he liked the game and wanted to continue. Several students groaned in frustration Thursday when they seemed to reach an impossible task, but that didn’t discourage them.

“It’s a little bit challenging,” Savannah Gomez said.

She explained her task of trying to navigate the maze and avoid all the obstacles.

“It’s fun,” Gomez said. “I like it.”

“You can do different things with coding. You could do multiple things, that’s what makes it so fun.”

Teacher Cienna Curran helps third-grader Oscar Nateras during the classes Hour of Code event, a one-hour introduction to computer science.

Teacher Cienna Curran helps third-grader Oscar Nateras during the classes Hour of Code event, a one-hour introduction to computer science.

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