In December 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The bill focuses on elementary education to ensure every child is prepared to succeed in our modern economy.
Part of that preparation requires a greater focus on computer science, which thanks to ESSA, will now be recognized as an important academic subject.
This is a huge step forward because, according to Code.org, only one in four schools provide computer science instruction.
Utah students eager to learn
While the bill will do a lot to improve computer science education in the classroom, it’ll take some time to come up with the right educational programs and strategies.
To accelerate this process in Utah, the XANT Do Good Foundation is working with 225 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at Maple Ridge Elementary School in the Nebo School District.
Every Friday, six XANT employees visit the school and teach three 45-minute classes on the foundations of coding, covering topics like logical thinking and following directions.
“I’m thrilled to be part of this pilot project, teaching children skills that they may not have the opportunity to discover in their usual school activities,” said Clemence Coleman, XANT SEO analyst. “It is fascinating to see the children’s reactions when we invite them to apply our technical knowledge in computer programming to their day-to-day activities, such as making breakfast.”
In addition to providing volunteers, the Do Good Foundation also donated 28 Google Chromebooks and a Chromebook charging cart to help students with the hands-on portions of the program.
Earlier this month, Provo’s Daily Herald newspaper visited the school and reported on the program’s progress.
Expanding across Utah
The course is modeled after Code.org’s curriculum and will run 16 weeks, planning to resume again in the fall.
The Do Good Foundation is looking to expand this initiative beyond Maple Ridge and the Nebo District.
XANT founder Dave Elkington has met with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who is very supportive of the program.
Using Maple Ridge as a pilot to test the program, the Do Good Foundation is hoping to package the coursework and meet with other state education leaders to inspire every elementary school in Utah to teach coding.
To make the program as effective as possible, other tech companies across Utah are encouraged to get involved and contribute their talents and resources.
For those interested in getting involved, feel free to reach out to Tema Laussen, director of XANT’s Do Good Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.