North Dakota students learn code for Computer Science Education Week

Language Arts teacher Jackie Brown teaches her class about coding in her sixth grade reading class. Photo Credit: Austin Howard

FARGO-- About 6,000 students throughout North Dakota have been participating in an "Hour of Code" during national computer science education week.

Computer coding is a programming language created through a set of commands, instructions, and other syntax used to create a software program

Gov. Doug Burgum along with Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler have encouraged changes to be made in K-12 education in both computer science and online safety.

"We've been talking a long time, and our parents have been telling us a long time, how important they think coding is important to learn in our K-12 systems," Baesler said.

"We've been working with local school districts and at the capitol we are trying to make sure we are highlighting that and focusing on that," Baesler said.

Jackie Brown, a language arts teacher at Discovery Middle School, was in charge of bringing out the fun in coding for her sixth grade students. She said the skill can help bring out what students have a desire in doing.

"For me I'm just really all about helping my students find the things they are passionate about. Many of my students, much like the rest of our students in the building and in our community, are doing a lot of their reading online anyway," Brown said.

"Through teaching them these coding strategies, I'm hoping that they might be able to find their own voice online and be able to express their creativity that way as they get a little older," she said.

Brown said there can be a parallel between computer science and reading, and believes it ultimately can show students there are more similarities than they had realized before.

"I think computer science has been looked at as a sort of the 'other' type thing, but I think a lot of the skills that we teach in a normal curriculum, the creativity, the critical thinking skills, can also go into coding," Brown said.

Brown helped teach students through the video game Minecraft: Voyage Aquatic as a fun way and an easy way for young students to dive into the topic. She ultimately thinks it will allow those to express themselves in a creative way outside of standard writing.

"I think it's a very fun way to highlight those things particularly in my reading classroom because we're about creativity and trying to get people's thoughts and meanings in what they write. Coders do that, coders have ways of expressing their creativity in the things they write and the things they create so I think it's a really neat way to highlight some of the more creative aspects of coding," Brown said.