Pond Springs classes code with local engineers, Angry Birds

Carts of laptops were wheeled through the halls of Pond Springs Elementary School Wednesday to introduce the entire school to computer science through the Hour of Code lessons.

The fourth grade classes focused an hour on an Angry Birds themed code lesson using visual code blocks to make the bird move. The students used trial-and-error and logic problem solving techniques to move through levels of the game through code.

“Computer science is something I think is neglected at the elementary level,” said Cara Shipp, Pond Springs instructional technology specialist. “We teach languages and math, but we don’t really go into computer programming logic. The problem solving aspect is really important for the students.”

Local computer scientists also joined the teachers throughout the day to assist the students. Laura Lopez, a software developer at Big Blue Sky Advertising, moved through the hallway of classrooms to help students troubleshoot their lines of code and build their confidence with the program.

“If kids are successful with coding, they’re not going to be afraid of trying out new things with programming,” Lopez said. “These kids can try these websites and games on other days too and learn more.”

Pond Springs currently has an after school coding club, which has already led students to learn advanced computer programming. A fourth-grader, for example, began learning code in the club through the visual blocks and has since started learning JavaScript, a professional programming language.

“Our kids have dabbled in coding a little bit after school, so we have some kids who are already experts,” said Edie Binns, Pond Springs principal. “It’s fun to watch them be teachers for the students who haven’t experience coding before. Some kids are catching on so quickly.”