Coding for kindness

June 10th, 2016

This week students, faculty and administrators in the Indianapolis Public Schools system closed another year. And what a year it was for one Northwest High School teacher and the freshmen in her Intro to Computer Science class. Challenging, innovative and transformative sum up it pretty accurately.

Angela Jones—known affectionately as A. Jones—taught her first computer science (CS) this year course after 16 years as an English teacher. Changing subjects was hard, even for the seasoned veteran. Grasping the CS concepts were equally difficult for her students. Together, they made it look easy when they received $20,000 in technology for being the state winner of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest, which raises interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among high school students and challenges students to apply STEM to help their local communities.

A. Jones learned about the contest from a fellow teacher. The class decided to focus its project on raising awareness of the school’s new food bank. Students even visited Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana to research its operations and marketing.

“Our inventory system and web page won the contest and innovated our school food pantry,” shared freshmen Alex. “Our purpose wasn’t just to win though. We want to help our community so more mouths will be fed.”

Through the project and class, students learned html coding, video editing and how to program a robot. The hands-on experience also taught them important life skills.

“A. Jones also taught us how to be more self-sufficient, work on our own, turn in assignments on time and make sure we are prepared,” added Alex.

“The problem-solving skills we practiced helped us find answers to our questions. We can now brag to our friends that we know how to create web pages, video games and edit videos,” added another freshman.

A. Jones is a proud of their transformations. “These students entered my class with little experience with computers, coding or problem solving. In the beginning, they hated me for not giving them the answers,” she reflects. “At the end of the year they didn’t need or expect my help.”

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