SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

CodeAdvantage makes programming accessible for kids

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

The first and second graders at All Saints Episcopal Day School are learning how to code.

“We’re programming this piece that makes the axle rotate and we can change the speed, how the axle turns and make it go backwards and forward,” said Nicholas, one of the students.

You’re not alone if you didn’t catch that, so Nicholas broke it down further.

“They’re building a truck, but we’re programming it to move,” he explained.

Charu Chaturvedi co-founded CodeAdvantage two years ago after struggling to find coding classes for her kids. The engineer and mother of three says it is critical to bring coding into the classroom.

Students at All Saints Episcopal Day School use Legos to make a car with a motor that they can program.

 

“Coding is synonymous with computer programming and it’s really telling a computer what to do. It’s giving instructions. It’s giving instructions that are clear and easy to follow, so what we’re doing is allowing kids to think in that very clear, logical, sequenced way to figure out how to get from point A to point B,” Chaturvedi said.

She says it’s essentially like learning another language, so the earlier you teach kids the better.

“Right now we’re in about 50 schools in Manhattan as well as northern New Jersey,” she said. “I think the hardest part was helping the after school director understand why coding and STEM classes were so critical. I think parents wanted their kids to play after school, so we’d talk to parents and they’d say ‘we want this, we want this now’ and they’d go to their schools.”

“I think it’s pretty cool because it’s not most of the time that you can get Legos to move,” said another student, Julia.

They’re nearly ready to join the ranks of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, and they already have big ideas of their own.

“I would make backpack alarms, like little circuits with batteries, and then make backpacks in factories with the alarm attached on so when someone tries to steal something it’ll alarm,” said student Michael.

When I’m going to be older I’m just going to teach kids how to engineer,” said another student, Phillip.

All Saints Episcopal Day School’s Head of School Jill Singleton says for several years now they’ve made it a mission to expose students to a wide variety of STEM programs.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before coding is absolutely a core curriculum piece and it’s essential to every child’s education,” Singleton said.