KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Give a child a game and they'll play, but teach a child to code their own game and it could spark endless possibilities.
Keesler’s 336th Training Squadron and Back Bay Elementary School collaborated to bring knowledge of basic computer programming to students.
Currently, the students have one 45-minute computer class every week. Volunteer instructors come during that period to supplement the fourth grade class’s computer programming education. They teach the students basic coding in a seven-week course, where students build their own versions of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’.
“This program provides students with a STEM-based learning opportunity to enhance their computer skills through coding,” said Trenisha Weekley, Back Bay Elementary School assistant principal. “By teaching students how to translate an algorithm into code at the basic level, this particular class implemented the Algorithms and Programming Standards for grades three through five, listed in the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards for Computer Science.”
Initially, the school reached out to Keesler’s school liaison with interest in getting this program, and a team of four 336th TRS programming instructors jumped at the opportunity to teach the students.
Instructors taught the development process to the students to teach them the value of meaningful and efficient programming, having students make decisions on which information to use, how to process it and store it.
“I would've never thought at a 4th grade level that this would be taught, so to see it be taught now is incredible,” said Tech Sgt. Shane Balkcom, 336th TRS learning program manager. “As a parent I would want them to build on that basic understanding of programming. Computers are a part of everyday life, so teaching kids at a young age gives them the idea that it's not as astronomically hard as it’s thought to be. It can open their minds to whole new interests that could develop into a STEM career.”
Upon completion of the program the students receive a certificate of completion.
“Back Bay Elementary School students, administrators and staff appreciate this opportunity to collaborate with Keesler on this initiative," said Weekley. “We thank the Airmen for volunteering their time and effort to instruct our students.”