CENTENNIAL, Colo. — An after-school computer coding program has been hard at work developing a helping hand for students learning the art of computer science.
Centennial's theCoderSchool mentors students in applying computer science to build applications that run on computers. The school is part of a nationwide system in 55 locations around the country and the Centennial location is the only one in Colorado.
“It’s awesome watching these kids learn something new,” said owner Andrew Pedersen. “And learn something that’s going to be so important not only in their educational career but also in their professional career later in life.”
Coding is the way computer programmers communicate with computers. They use coding to give computers and other machines instructions on what actions to perform. Coding is also used to program websites, apps, and other technologies we interact with every day.
“When we look at car manufacturers, look where Ford is going, look where Tesla’s been,” Pedersen said. “All of that computerization in the cars not only how they’re built but also how they operate i.e. self-driving, artificial intelligence [and] things of that nature.”
The school is for students ages six through 18 and teaches them introductory computer programming skills. They also help mentor older students who want to major in computer science in college. Pedersen said it’s important for younger students to start learning code now to keep up in the future.
“It’s easier to learn how to speak another language when you're young (and) coding’s just another language,” he said. “Marketing, medicine, anything like that, you’re going to have an understanding as to how these computers work and the code that goes inside the computers.”
According to the school, students learn skills from game development to advanced technologies that help students with communication, creativity, writing and math. The school said its mission is to help students achieve their own computer programming goals through their lessons.
“I know that there are some places that will try to educate with very strict curriculum and since there’s so much you can do with code, that doesn’t work for everybody,” said theCoderSchool coach Erica DiGiulio. “It teaches really important problem-solving skills because that’s what really programming is all about.”
“I just don’t like having problems, so I like to get them over with,” added fourth-grader Andrew Scott. “I just like the idea of creating my own game.”
Pedersen said schools around the state are doing a good job of introducing coding but they’re not going deep enough.
“What goes into coding is a lot of mathematics so they’re going to learn math while they’re coding,” he said. “Understanding algorithms, ratios, things that go into the code, they’re going to pull that out in their lessons.”
Currently, theCoderSchool is working with the Cherry Creek School District by having high school students from their Innovation campus come over to work as interns. Pedersen hopes the interns will help students like Andrew stay a step ahead even if they’re not necessarily going to end up getting a job coding.
“I do like it, but I don’t know if I will do it when I’m an adult because that’s in a lot of years,” Andrew said.
“The kids today, are going to be more integrated in the digital world than we ever were,” added Pedersen. “Jobs that you don’t normally need to understand coding today, you will need to know how to code in the future.”
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